Buildings

Published on December 16th, 2016 | by UC&D Magazine

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Circular Logic

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Peace Coliseum – Overstock.com’s new stately headquarters – is one of the more unique buildings in the Beehive State.

In the pressurized pace of designing its new corporate headquarters, it can truly be said that Overstock.com and its partners brought an overall sense of peace to the proceedings. That’s because Peace Coliseum, as it is called, exhibits a near-perfect balance of efficiency, employee amenities and corporate branding. Not only is the shape of the main three-story, 231,000 SF headquarters round – and built to resemble a classic Roman coliseum from the ground – but when seen from above, the view is that of a giant peace symbol.
Sitting on 19 acres at the View 72 Corporate Center in Midvale, Peace Coliseum is a stunning piece of architecture. The building held its grand opening on Oct. 14.
“We are very pleased to have Overstock as part of the View 72 project,” said Christian Gardner, President/CEO of developer Gardner Company. “We are thrilled to have this unique iconic building in our development. It has certainly brought a new level of design to the office park. We had an exceptionally great experience working with the Overstock team and appreciated their expertise. Overstock will be a tremendous addition to Midvale City.”
The new headquarters is currently home to 1,000 of Overstock.com’s 1,700-person employee pool. The campus could eventually house up to 2,000 associates, with the potential for further growth as well.
Patrick Byrne, Overstock.com’s Founder/CEO, captured the overarching essence of the headquarters’ design in an official statement when he said, “The Coliseum represents the duality of man; the dichotomy of the coliseum representing toughness, strength and boldness, while the peace sign represents gentleness, peace and love.”
According to Peter Emerson, Principal in Charge for EDA Architects in Salt Lake City, Overstock officials had indicated they wanted a round building from the early design phase – a direction some members of the development team initially tried – and failed — to dissuade them from taking. While still in the concept design phase, Emerson said someone casually introduced the idea of the peace sign.
“We worked daily with Overstock.com team members throughout the concept design process, and at one meeting, a simple sketch of a building mass in the shape of a peace symbol was handed out,” Emerson said. “It was a tongue-in-cheek moment, but as people mulled the concept over, they began asking, ‘Why not?’ The team discussed multiple design options, and the best ideas from the discussions eventually became the round poured-in- place concrete moment frame building.”
According to Meghan Tuohig, VP, People Care, Overstock.com, the circular building not only fit with the company’s name but also its use of the letter “O” in branding.
“Since outdoor space was also highly desired, the hub-and-spoke configuration was presented so that a courtyard could be incorporated into the layout,” said Tuohig. “With only slight adjustments of the ‘spokes’ of that design, we realized a peace sign emerged…which is a symbol that resonates with our values and company.”
The peace sign view is achieved with a second circular building in the center of Peace Coliseum. This two-story, structure – dubbed “the Nucleus” – encompasses 6,500 SF and is chock full of employee amenities. The first floor features a juice/espresso bar with locally sourced product, including open seating spaces for both collaborative or individual needs. The top floor houses an employee game room, featuring ping pong and air hockey tables, arcade games, chess and other board games – and massage chairs and additional relaxation areas. The entire second floor area also can be used for large or company-wide meetings.
A handful of walkways – two enclosed, two covered and one uncovered – connect the main building to the Nucleus – creating the hub and spoke visual in the shape of the peace symbol.
“The unique design worked surprisingly well for the way our organization operates,” Tuohig. “This was a situation where both form and function tied together seamlessly. Designing any structure that is circular is an engineering challenge, but we were able to work with the best and brightest architects and engineers to bring our vision to life.”
The biggest hurdles facing both the design and construction teams stemmed from the round shape of the main building. Coordinating the design and installation of equipment, fixtures, furnishings and systems generally used in rectangular spaces and fitting them into a round building proved challenging.
“The solution was to visually provide curved and radial walls while actually creating rectangular spaces where needed,” Emerson said.
According to Michael Despain II, Senior Project Manager for Okland Construction, Building Information Modeling was utilized where all mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire sprinklers, walls, columns, and the like were all planned and coordinated in a model to specifically discover and eliminate potential clashes and conflicts prior to installation.
“Peace Coliseum is a complete cast- in-place architectural concrete structure both inside and out,” Despain said. “This posed some challenges particularly due to the round nature of the building relative to forming concrete, but also relative to schedule – as concrete was our critical path.”
Despain said coordination was crucial as many of the systems needed to occupy the same space and same path relative to the round building.
“Layout of all the systems was accomplished after the coordination with
a robotic total station,” he said. “This instrument was used to lay out columns, walls, embeds in the concrete for glazing, embeds in the concrete for the mechanical and electrical systems for all the piping, duct, equipment, conduit, etc. Many of the columns, walls, openings and grid lines were based on actual northings and easting.”
The structural engineering of Peace Coliseum is also noteworthy. Emerson said the building incorporates both circular and near-circular geometry in the layout of structural concrete elements, with a gravity system consisting of post-tensioned concrete slabs supported by three concentric concrete beam and column rings – an inner circle, outer circle and one between them.
“Both the inner and outer slab edges, as well as the exterior beam ring, are circular, while the other beam rings are triacontagonal, or 30-sided polygons with 12-degree vertices,” Emerson said. “Since the exterior beams and columns are exposed to the architectural skin, special attention was given to concrete finish, color and reveal locations. Post-tensioning cables are arrayed only along radial lines, like the spokes of a bicycle, and direct stress to the center.”
Emerson said that reinforcement in the slab is also placed in a circular fashion, with rings and radial lines arrayed around the building.
“The beams and columns are rectangular prisms, reinforced to qualify as special concrete moment frames,” Emerson said, “so the lateral system is also circular in that sense.”
Phil Miller, a Senior Associate with Dunn Associates, Inc. in Salt Lake City, which provided structural engineering on the project, said concrete moment frames are not that common to begin with in this part of the country, but adding roundness to the equation is extremely rare.
“Concrete moment frames in a circular arrangement is unique, particularly in seismic areas,” Miller said. “I’m not aware of another structure like it in that respect.”
According to Despain, two other unique features are the building’s Halo and use of View Dynamic Glass.
“The Halo is the architectural glass that sits on top of the building, creating a majestic but subtle element to this unique building,” Despain said. “In addition, the majority of the glass in the project was View Glass. This is a special glass that uses a low-voltage current to tint or darken based on the sun, and will change based on the movement of the sun throughout the day. Each piece of glass can be individually tinted, as well as tinting many sections at once. This is helpful through the day to maintain the natural light throughout the building without blocking the view with blinds.”
The View Dynamic Glass is one component of the building’s energy efficiency strategies. Another is the utilization of a water-sourced Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system, which boasts high efficiency ratings for its energy recovery capabilities.
“Our state-of-the-art data center is currently one of the most efficient and advanced facilities in the entire world,” Tuohig said, adding that the ambient heat from the data center helps to provide much of the internal heat for the building in the colder months.
Pointing to the View Dynamic Glass and the VRF system, Tuohig said, “(Those) are just two parts of Peace Coliseum that further increase energy efficiency while decreasing the ecological footprint of the building. Both of these features are major contributors to the expected LEED Gold certification we hope to be awarded in the coming months.”
An additional employee amenities building, located between the main headquarters and the parking garage, includes on-site daycare, a health clinic and a 5,000 SF fitness center. Also drawing raves is a gourmet-style cafeteria with intriguing menu options that rotate daily and cost less than a typical fast-food meal.
“We have taken it to the next level,” Tuohig said, “by also building an on-site greenhouse that will supply the cafeteria with fresh produce starting next spring.”
Emerson said that the overall success of the project was due to the willingness of all team members both understanding and embracing the initial vision, and working closely to deliver it on time and under budget.
“From the beginning, the Overstock.com team was committed to improving the quality of the work experience and work space for their employees,” Emerson said. “They clearly understood that this project was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – a time to be bold and question standard practices; to pursue a vision and make a commitment to their employees and the future of Overstock.com.”
“It was the relationships built between EDA, Overstock and Okland that was the hallmark of this project. All of us were invested in the vision of Overstock,” said Despain, who also credited Okland Superintendent Shane Wagstaff. “I’m thankful to be part of such a unique and bold project that will be a staple and icon in the Salt Lake Valley for a long time.”
Being a company born and bred in Utah, Tuohig said Overstock specifically sought out local business partners when it came to designing and constructing its concrete and glass coliseum.
“All the companies we worked with aligned with our vision to provide an incredible facility for our employees and raise the bar when it comes to innovating a new corporate headquarters for a cutting- edge technology company,” Tuohig said. “That being said, our partnerships were chosen as much on merit as on location, and we were glad to have found such great partners within Utah.”


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