Core Design Team

Firm: Integrus Architecture

Mark Dailey
Jose Barajas
Aaron Zwanzig
Katie Vingelen


Mechanical Engineering: MW Consulting Engineers
Electrical Engineering: MW Consulting Engineers
Civil Engineer: AHBL
Landscape Architect: AHBL

Project Narrative

The 12,400 sf Spokane Conservation District (SCD) office building provides a rare opportunity to enhance and grow SCD’s existing successful programs focused on conservation and the environment in a truly unique context. The site is an abandoned rock quarry that served as a mining operation for 40 years and features three distinct geologic formations coming together in one location, providing a living example of the scars of past conservation failures with the promise of future successes. SCD’s mission is to develop and implement programs which will protect and conserve our natural and renewable resources by providing resources, technical assistance, and tools to landowners. The SCD was formed in 1973 through the consolidation of several local conservation districts, nationally conservation districts were formed following the dust bowl of the 1930’s to bring attention to the need to conserve natural resources, particularly soil.

Building Inspiration & Integration
The new phase 1 building is strategically placed on this 50-acre campus to maximize daylight, provide views of the site, and easy access to future interpretive trails for the public, visitors, and local k-12 students and teachers. The program consists of shared public spaces, administration, and indoor and outdoor informal collaboration spaces. An important design goal was to celebrate SCD’s agricultural roots using honest, ‘everyday’, low maintenance materials typically found in the region’s simple agrarian buildings. Those materials include weathering steel which will take on the warm brown/grey tones of the adjacent cliffs and rock, reclaimed wood sourced within a 200-mile radius of the quarry, and site cast tilt-up concrete panels featuring native stones from the site including basalt, granite, and river rock from the Missoula floods. The stones, picked from the quarry itself with the owner, serve as a metaphor reinforcing the necessary connection this building has to this unique site, and its unique geology. Using certain exterior building materials as interior finish provides warmth and continuity of experience moving from the exterior to interior, blurring the lines between indoors and outdoors, enhancing connection to the site, and promoting resource stewardship. The natural patina of these materials over time is intended to reinforce the idea that this site is a living, changing place and the building is now a natural part of that process.

The building diagram is an intentionally simple east/west ‘bar’ maximizing solar orientation and passive strategies. This geometry helps set up future development of the site which will include a conference center, maintenance and storage buildings, and related tenant buildings sharing similar goals (as indicated in phased masterplan diagram graphic, one is currently under construction). Three volumetric ‘sheds’ are inserted strategically into the ‘bar’ to provide informal gathering and learning spaces, define public versus private, and draw natural light and views deeper into the building mass. A simple material palette is used to differentiate the shed and bar elements of the building and enhance a composition that is inspired by the functional, hardworking agricultural buildings of the region.

“…the quarry uniquely celebrates the past including its industrial usage but now opens the door to some really cool uses.”
– Randy James, SCD Board Director

Environmental Sensitivity
This project recognizes that science and technology have a significant impact on the environment. Its wholistic approach to environmentally conscious design develops a high-performance solution that maximizes energy efficiency, improves occupant wellbeing, supports sustainable education, and promotes environmental conservation. Design for environmental sensitivity includes:

  • Ecological Restoration and Rehabilitation: The existing landscape of the quarry represents a
    mix of natural areas, remediated mining, and industrial remnants. When all phases of the SCD
    project are complete, the majority of the 50-acre site is expected to be remediated landscape
    restored to high-quality natural habitat.
  • Landscape: Low-vulnerability and high resilience landscapes are achieved using landscape
    conservation strategies practiced and taught by SCD. The landscape itself is used as a tool to
    educate the community on conservation and sustainable practices.
  • Materials: Use of everyday materials in innovative ways (as discussed above.) Exposing the
    building’s wood and steel construction to act as the ‘finish’ reduces the need for additional
    unnecessary finishes. Efficient and repeatable 4’ module reduces material waste. Regional wood
    and stones reclaimed from the site are sustainable finishes that connect to SCD’s mission.
  • Site Elements: Natural and industrial objects found on the site from its past life as a quarry
    were repurposed to serve as art and seating.
  • Water: Rainwater catchment from the roof is achieved and showcased with a large cistern (to
    come in future phase) and native rain gardens near the public areas. Water consumption is
    reduced through high efficiency and low flow equipment throughout the facility.
  • Energy: High-efficiency equipment that exceeds state energy code requirements is employed
    throughout the building and integrate with controls to condition on an as-need basis.

“…it is our responsibility to be good stewards of our resources bringing balance to the
environment and human interaction….”
– Jaki Shrauger, SCD Board Member

Using queues from the amazing juxtaposition of geology, industry, and natural habitat at the Quarry site, the landscapes within SCD’s campus will serve as an extension of their mission. Wrapped around the office building will be the ‘green zone’, with six demonstration gardens intertwined with pathways. These landscapes will target rural and urban environments and will be both educational and functional. The campus landscape design has focused on three primary areas:

  • Ecological Restoration and Rehabilitation
  • Mining Remediation
  • Wetland Ecology and Water Quality.
  • Rural and Urban Conservation Learning Environments:
    • Firewise Landscapes (for urban fringe homes)
    • Spokane Smartscapes (lawn alternative landscapes)
    • Regional Geology (formation of Rocky Mtns., Columbia Basalt flows, and the
      Missoula floods)

Social Impact
The SCD’s mission is putting conversation on the ground by bringing people and resources together. From outdoor education and demonstrations to urban and rural landscape solutions, this campus will be a conservation model that provides both public access and a one-stop-shop for technical assistance and resources in the agricultural industry. This new building is an important first step toward SCD providing the communities they serve with opportunities to explore, conserve, and enjoy our natural resources and encourages a larger conversation regarding our food environment and our influence on the landscape we call home. The SCD site engages with the public by offering recreation trails for enjoyment, a venue for farmer’s market, rock climbing and more to promote live, work, and play.

“…this property will demonstrate that common ground is possible between urban and rural interfaces and provides a space for our landscape and community to come together.”
– Tom Miller, SCD Vice Chair

The local community encompasses all of Spokane County, serving approximately 500,000 residents.A feasible goal of 75 jobs with median wages exceeding $21.00 per hour, additionally long-term benefits will include job creation for future construction activities. SCD’s vision is to have an on-the ground demonstration of how an urban-rural interface can provide space for this landscape and. community to come together.

Client Satisfaction
“Our new building has truly revealed the very best version of the SCD staff and board members. The thoughtful architecture and site-specific design have provided an environment offering an entirely new level of possibility. Our collaboration space could fittingly be renamed the ‘Possibility Space’ as I have observed openness, enthusiasm, and creativity in our employees unlike any other time, building or space we have resided. We are fortunate to have this incredible space that allows our work, passion, and dreams to coincide.”
– Vicki Carter, Director of Spokane Conservation District