The SAIF High Street Building at the Salem Campus has placed
first in the Office-New Construction category at the 2019 TopProject Awards, a
recognition given by DJC Oregon each year. The award is a true testament to the
hard work of the entire team to create a once-in-a-generation project that reflects
the mission of SAIF to
make Oregon the safest and healthiest place to work.
SAIF—a not-for-profit, state-chartered workers’ compensation
insurance company—chose to renovate their existing 40-year-old campus as a
reflection of their investment in the future of the city of Salem. With safety,
collaboration, and sustainability set as cornerstones to guide the $90 million
project, Ankrom Moisan and the project
team began the structural analysis and extensive renovation process.
Saving the Structure
Although reusing the existing structure saved time and money,
heavy exterior pre-cast concrete panels, outdated mechanical and electrical
systems, and deep floor plates, meant that each building desperately needed an
upgrade to embody SAIF’s mission and goals. Instead of trying to blend the old and new construction
element seamlessly, the team left only the original “bones” of the building. This
was done by cutting and removing the exterior precast concrete panels
one-by-one— rigging pieces to a crane while still attached to the building.
A 3D laser scan, ultrasound, and ground penetrating radar
was used to establish true condition of existing structure. Structural
improvements were then made, including: steel drag plates added at the existing
connection beams, rebar reinforcements to shotcrete shear walls to bear lateral
loads, diaphragm upgrades using concrete double-T structural elements, and vertical
two-floor connections between floors.
A Welcoming New Entry
A major design goal was to give SAIF employees a new
welcoming entryway. We observed that daily, hundreds of employees would funnel
through the confined employee entrance—next to the trash compactor. Additionally,
employees had to park across the street and then cross a street that did not
have a modern crosswalk. The new design would need to create a more open, safe
way for people to get inside.
The new entrance is now a corridor to
nature. Since we couldn’t cut holes into
the existing shear walls, we used other design elements to solve for this
limitation. Wood brings elements down to human scale and reflects our intent to
connect with nature. Metal cladding contrasts with wood to create interesting
Modernized Work Spaces
Reminiscent of the modernist style of the 1960s and ‘70s,
the interior of dated building had poor workstation layouts, inefficient shared
spaces, a lack of connectivity between the buildings and deep floor plates that
created light-deprived workspaces. It was important to the entire team to bring
the outside in, to incorporate more natural light and connect with nature in
order to accommodate all employees and emerging work styles.
To create multiple levels of communal and private spaces the
team explored a range of options to give occupants various opportunities for
privacy and social engagement. A green backyard was proposed as a comfortable
outdoor escape, anchored by the oak tree.
Double height collaboration spaces were created by
strategically cutting holes in the existing structure, which created more
physical connections between floors and departments. We layered materials and colors inspired by
seasonal transformations, organic formations, and rich textures. Soft,
monochromatic elements now enhance private focus areas while becoming brighter
and more vibrant as circulation spills into community spaces. Open spaces with
expansive views to the outdoors flood the workplace with natural light and
offer moments for both dynamic socialization or seclusion.
Leading with Green Initiatives
as LEED Gold equivalent, the building's design incorporates low maintenance and durable
materials. SAIF approved a 15-year payback for efficiency measures, which allowed us
to consider more aggressive energy efficiency strategies. From hydronic radiant heating and cooling systems, to energy-efficient kitchen equipment and elevators, the campus is projected to achieve 40% less energy use than a code-equivalent building.
Protecting the heritage oak tree adjacent to
the project site was another key design goal. It was a priority for SAIF to maintain the oak tree as focal
point, which was reflected in the overall design. All the main
circulation and collaborative spaces are centered around areas in the building
that provide connection to the tree and the garden-like courtyard. Throughout
construction, Lewis’ crews partnered with SAIF’s arborist to monitor soil water
levels and establish a protection area around the tree using hard fences.
A Cohesive Team
Beginning in the design
phase, an open line of communication between design, constructability, and
budgeting teams helped to clearly establish project goals. Our team used a new
information sharing system and explored how traditional design and budget
approaches could evolve. Contrary to the standard design process our team
employed an approach in which design and cost estimating were performed in
tandem. This reduced redundancies and future change orders and provided a clear
road map for the team. Each member of the main
project team co-located in a modified “big room” three days a week during
As a company that makes
workplaces safer and healthier, SAIF made the jobsite a better place to work by
establishing standards and processes. Every member of the project’s core
team engaged in a safety summit early in preconstruction to solidify safety as
a priority, share their similar experiences, and identify proactive on-site
safety measures. The 22-month project was successfully completed without a time-lost accident.
“It truly feels like our
efforts on this project will make Oregon safer by providing a working
environment that allows SAIF to better serve their mission,” says Ricardo
Becerril, Owner Representative of SAIF.
SAIF partnered with the City of Salem, neighboring
businesses, neighborhood associations, and local law enforcement to create a
new campus that anchors the boundary of the downtown zone along the historical
district. Nearly half of the project’s subconsultants were based within a
25-mile radius of the SAIF campus and approximately 40% of the project’s
workforce live in Salem or adjacent communities.
The SAIF High Street Building accurately embodies the
company’s core mission to make Oregon the safest and healthiest place to work.
The modern, healthy workplace is one that SAIF employees and
community members alike are proud of.
Congratulations to the entire project team on the recognition from DJC Oregon at this year's TopProject's Awards ceremony.