Published on July 1st, 2014 | by UC&D Magazine0
Déjà View, July 2014
It may officially be located on W. Traverse Parkway in Lehi, but the view from its sparkly new $48 million headquarters is enough to show that Xactware is now exactly where the idea of site and sight construction intersect.
The four-story, 210,000-square-foot building, which had its official ribbon- cutting ceremony May 15, sits grandly on a bench of Traverse Mountain. The eye- catching structure’s curtain wall design takes full advantage of its location by offering a commanding view of Utah Valley and nearby mountain peaks, as well as delivering natural light through much of building’s interior spaces. It is a benefit not lost on the company’s nearly 550 employees or visitors to the site.
“I keep hearing people talk about how gorgeous the view is,” said Jim Evans, Xactware’s COO and Senior Vice-President. “We probably have the best view in the whole valley. Up here on the bench, you can see all the way across Utah Lake and Provo, and you have a spectacular view of the mountains.”
David Brems, Principal in Charge for GSBS Architects of Salt Lake City, sounded almost whimsical as he discussed the views and how they affected the building’s design process.
“The views from the building will just blow you away,” said Brems. “It’s really elevated and…the view really sells the place.”
One of the key design elements that brings the panorama to light–not to mention offering transparency and natural illumination inside–are a series of glass bump outs that affect portions of all floors and all sides of the facility.
“We did the bump outs on the building actually askew, and it helps us break up the rigidity of the interior layout,” Brems said. The bump outs are not parallel or perpendicular to the building, but on an angle, he added, noting that when you project that angle back inside the building you can have some fun with the spaces since they are not 90 degrees.
“(The bump outs) break up their long wall,” Brems said, “and we ran the glass to the floor where those occur, so it gives you a place to do something kind of unique.”
Evans said Xactware – a Utah-based company specializing in technologies or the property insurance, remodeling, restoration, mortgage and lending industries that started in 1986 with three employees – was especially interested in creating an open environment that fostered employee collaboration, a vision the new building’s design clearly captured.
“We aimed for an open, transparent work space with lots of natural light, and we certainly got that,” said Evans. “We also planned for two to three conference rooms – both large and small – on each floor where employees could gather to collaborate, as well as desk configurations that would offer enough privacy to work efficiently while retaining a sense of open space and camaraderie.”
Big-D Construction of Salt Lake City was the general contractor for the project under a design-build delivery system.Will Hopkins, Vice-President at Big-D, said another unique design decision resulted in the expansive floor plates being column free.
“There are no interior columns from the building core to the exterior skin,” said Hopkins. “This gives the tenant unencumbered space that was molded to their own tastes.”
The building includes a bevy of employee amenities on its 12-acre site. It houses a 3,000 SF fitness center, a bicycle locker, a large cafe, break rooms on every level and other kitchen services. Outside and adjacent to the building are four basketball (half) courts, a sand volleyball pit and a two-story parking terrace with a capacity for 700 vehicles.
“We wanted to encourage the work- hard, play-hard environment that’s always been a part of Xactware’s culture,” said Evans, “and that’s where the gym, basketball courts, volleyball pit and bike locker come in.”
According to Brems, the sloping terrain at the site created both a challenge and an opportunity.
“We provided structured parking which fits neatly into the hillside and allows easy access to the building,” he said. “We also created a valley between the new building and the parking for sheltered outdoor recreation.”
Wind conditions, which are prevalent in the Point of the Mountain area, were addressed in the building’s curtain wall design by using zinc metal panels with an elite air barrier system. The project utilized several strategies aimed to achieve LEED Silver certification, including low albedo roofs, a high-efficiency mechanical system optimizing energy use, underground on- site detention that replenishes the aquifer, a high-efficiency air-cooled Variable Refrigerant Flow system, and the use of certified wood.
Evans, Hopkins and Brems each specifically commented on the collaborative effort between all parties throughout the process – even as new decisions and changes to existing plans were made throughout the 15-month construction process.
“This all had to come together very quickly and every week there were many decisions to be made,” said Evans. “As with any construction project, there were many obstacles to overcome — some expected and some unexpected. I’m very proud of how all the teams worked together to get the building done on time.”
“We created raving fans using our team members’ positive, can-do attitude,their collaboration and the importance of candor and trust in making it not only work, but prosper,” said Hopkins.
As an example of embraced change during the course of construction, Hopkins pointed to the addition of a 12,000 SF Tier 4 data center, which slowed design plans down slightly, but did not impact the required completion date.
“The data center added an unexpected cost of about $7 million, and the team accepted it without adding time to the schedule,” he said. “This is only one of many examples of how the team worked together to solve issues as they arose.”
Xactware’s relocation from its previous campus at the mouth of Provo Canyon to Traverse Mountains advantageous for other locational reasons as the company continues to grow. It continues the trend of tech-savvy companies – or as Brems called it, “a software cluster” – locating in North Utah County, including Adobe, the NSA Data Center and IM/Flash (formerly Micron).
Just a few miles from the border of Utah and Salt Lake counties, Xactware now sits within easy access from I-15, FrontRunner, a future Trax stop and the Murdock Canal Trail (popular with bikers) – making it an attractive option for employees on either side of Point of the Mountain.
According to Brems, the Xactware building is a main cog in further development plans for that area in the immediate future. Additional phases include 1.2 million SF of office space, a group of restaurants spanning 40,000 SF, a retail area of approximately 300,000 SF, and a pad for a hotel.
However the future landscape changes surrounding Xactware, you can be sure the company and its employees will have a bird’s-eye view of the progress from inside the new headquarters.
“In many buildings, an employee might work all day and walk out and say, ‘Oh, it’s snowing’ or ‘I didn’t realize a storm was blowing in,’“ said Evans. “That doesn’t happen in this building. This building helps everyone connect with our beautiful surroundings in a way that I really think lifts spirits and improves the work environment.”
Cost: $48 million
Start/Completion: October 2012/May 2014 Size: 4 stories; 212,000 SF
GC: Big-D Construction, SLC
Architect: GSBS Architects, SLC
Civil: Ensign Engineering, Sandy
Structural: Dunn Associates, SLC
Mechanical: Colvin Engineering, SLC
Electrical: Spectrum Engineering, SLC
Electrical: Rydalch Electric;
Plumbing: VO Brothers Mechanical;
HVAC: Gunther’s Mechanical;
Site Concrete: Peterson Concrete;
Concrete: Big-D Construction;
Steel Fabrication: SME Steel;
Steel Erection: Sure Steel;
Roofing: Superior Roofing;
Glazing: B&D Glass;
Drywall: J&L Contracting;
Flooring: Spectre Flooring;
Painting: RP Painting