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American Building

60 EpisodesProduced by Michael GravesWebsite

American Building, hosted by Atif Z. Qadir, Sponsored by Michael Graves & REDIST, shares how iconic buildings came to be from the perspective of their developers, investors, and designers. These innovators discuss on a deeply personal level what they faced over the course of the entire building proc… read more


Collaboration Is Key | Jon Pickard

Jon Pickard is a Co-founder and Principal at Pickard Chilton, an award-winning architectural design firm based in Connecticut. We are talking about 2+U (also known as the Qualtrics Tower), the studio’s recently completed 690,000-square foot next-generation office complex in the heart of downtown Seattle. 2+U consists of 2 separate towers of 38 stories and 18 stories joined atop a common podium. It has 19,000 square feet of retail and restaurants over 2 floors, as well as an underground parking garage. It tops out at 530 feet, offering stunning views of Elliot Bay. The developer of the project was Skanska USA and the total project budget was $392 million.

 Learning from the Best

Before Pichard Chilton, Jon Pickard worked at a firm just down the street from his own in Connecticut. Cesar Pelli & Associates was an architect's dream workplace, Jon says. He was mentored by Cesar and learned how to build effective teams, work with world renowned clients, and design with integrity. It was here Jon met his cofounder, William Chilton. Jon credits his time at Cesar Pelli & Associates as the reason he and William were able to build such a successful firm of their own. The reputation of the company allowed them to get in the door with high-profile corporate clients before they had truly made a name for themselves. Years later, Pickard Chilton has grown a client roster that is a Who’s Who of corporate America, from ExxonMobil to Uber. 

 Winning the Project

It was both the portfolio of Pickard Chilton and their innovative designs that encouraged Skanska to extend an invitation to a Hackathon for a new office project in downtown Seattle. Through iteration and collaboration, Skanka and Pickard Chilton developed a concept that was as much about the community of Seattle as it was about the design of the tower. This sealed the deal, and Pickard Chilton was confirmed for the project, which would include demolition of Rainier Square Mall, the restoration of Town Hall, and the construction of F5 Tower.

 Designing a Building for the Future

Jon says they approached the project with the future workplace in mind and didn’t just follow the office trends of the day. While open office is currently popular with tech companies, (the target tenant demographic in Seattle today,) it was important that they build for other tenants and work styles that might occupy the building in the future. Jon believes building sustainably is more than the materials you use. It is also about building a space that will withstand the test of time. This innovative thinking extended beyond the design to the tools they used to communicate with both Skanska and future tenants. Virtual reality played a major role in showcasing the vision for U + 2 in design presentation and the sales center. 

 Successful Design Through Collaboration

Although Pickard Chilton has many “favorite children,” referring to completed projects he is proud of, he says U + 2 was exceptional. The shared vision between his team and the developer, Skanska, gave Jon’s team the freedom to design a building that was innovative, human-centric, and community-minded. Jon is proud of the fact that he had very little to do with the success of the project. The credit, he says, goes entirely to the project team, which remained the same from day one. Collaboration, Jon believes, was the key to success.


About your host: 

Atif Qadir is the Founder & CEO of REDIST, a technology company making it easy for commercial real estate professionals to find and use the $100B of real estate incentives given out every year in the US.


Resources & Links:

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