2+U
Benjamin Benschneider

2+U

Pickard Chilton as Architects

Conceived during a “design hack-a-thon” selection process, the concept for 2+U creates a strong connection between the building’s form and the Northwest’s character, resulting in a true Pacific Northwest building. Located next to the Seattle Art Museum, 2+U creates a seam of compelling pedestrian connections that knit together the waterfront, Pike’s Place Market and the Central Business District.

The 530-foot, 1 million gsf Class-A office tower comprises a 19-story podium and 38-story tower that have been raised 85 feet with a series Y-shaped sculptural columns. With open floor plates of 18,000 to 30,000 square feet, 2+U offers amenities such as a 19th-floor outdoor deck; a fitness and wellness studio with a sauna, showers, and lockers; and a bike club with secure storage, maintenance facilities, charging facilities for electric bikes; and four levels of below-grade parking.

Clad in a high performance enclosure, the tower is targeting LEED-CS Gold and features insulated vision glass, abundant natural light, rain water capturing. The columns below the tower are exposed concrete-encased steel columns in various sloping, vertical, and V-shaped layouts. The structural expression of the Y-columns extends up the façade, and meets the sky with cantilevered sculptural roof forms.

Prominently exposing the tower core’s cast-in-place sheer walls, the lobby features floors of roman travertine and wood walls of fumed larch paneling. Within the lobby ceiling, two sculptural light wells infuse the space with natural light and provide verticality.  Floor-to-ceiling windows within the double-height elevator lobbies frame views out to the Urban Village beyond.  

Further alluding to the forests of the Pacific Northwest, the space beneath the elevated tower creates a high forest-like canopy over 24,000 square feet of human-scaled open space that serves the entire neighborhood. Envisioned as first-of-its kind Urban Village, this multi-level pedestrian experience traverses the entire block with a network of steps and terraces that recall the passages at nearby Pike Place Market. Publicly-accessible elevators and ramps assist ferry commuters traverse the 30-foot rise in this steep block. 

While the tower above provides year-round weather protection akin to the warmth and comfort of a tree canopy, the dynamic open-air retail experience below serves as a gathering space for the public. With five access points, including the refurbished alley off University Street and two welcoming access points from First and Second Avenues, the Urban Village fuses local retail, art, culture and nature to offer 16,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, and the Studio, a community arts and cultural space of approximately 1,100 square feet. Designed to be a very porous and welcoming pedestrian experience for the entire neighborhood, the village also accommodates event and entertainment spaces, and a public plaza.

Spanning the entire three-level Urban Village, a GeoWall is the first in Seattle and one of the largest of its kind in the world. Made from local soils, the more than 220-foot long structural GeoWall curves through the Urban Village, starting at two feet in height and ending at more than 30 feet.

2 + U

Rulon International as Ceiling Manufacturer

Encircling the historic Diller Building at the corner of 2nd and University in downtown Seattle rises a classically clean yet elegantly unique skyscraper. The structure houses 1,000,000 square feet of office space and peers directly over the Puget Sound. The windows reflect Seattle’s skyline while the occasional splash of wood connects the buildings to the heavily forested pacific northwest. The skyscraper - now renamed “Qualtrics Tower” - stands completed, ready to welcome occupants as the city’s downtown continues to evolve.


One of the most inviting spaces, the dynamic, open-air urban village beneath the tower, creates the illusion of a tree canopy over a set of concrete terraces. The 24,000 square feet of public space includes local retail, art, culture, and green spaces and is capped by a protective covering of wood. Originally designed to be 4” wide tongue and groove Ash lumber finished with a fire-rated coating on-site, Rulon’s engineering team suggested some alternate assembly and profiling options that are showcased on the building today. The original design prompted two different application concerns First, applying finish to an already-installed system does not fully coat individual boards (front, back, and sides) and often does not provide for a fully-enveloped fire coating or a balanced finish to prevent warping or cupping due to expansion and contraction. Second, attaching loose tongue & groove boards to a completely sheathed substructure without a proper layout would have been incredibly time-consuming and detrimental to the visual aesthetic of the design concept. Instead, Rulon provided a pre-finished Linear Closed system that was modified to match the style of the original ceiling design, provided a Class A, factory-applied finish, and developed an invisible attachment method that would retain the natural look and feel of the Ash ceiling system.


Unique to this ceiling design, multiple intersecting planes required that the wood ceiling system change orientation to either match or run perpendicular to the direction of slope. A loose-board tongue & groove approach to this layout would have resulted in multiple complex cuts and no guarantee of alignment accuracy. Rulon provided a full RCP layout and installation guide to assist with the installation. This project would not have been a success without the ceiling contractor who was instrumental in handling the general installation as well as field cutting for MEPs and edge conditions.

Project Credits
Products used in this project
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct name
Ceiling ManufacturerRulon International
Product Spec Sheet
Ceiling Manufacturer
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