Iconic SMUD Headquarters Building Reopens
Rehabilitated historic building boasts LEED Gold-certified sustainability features
SMUD has reopened its renovated and rehabilitated historic Headquarters building, a Sacramento landmark that can’t be missed from where it sits overlooking Highway 50. Originally opened in 1960, “HQ” was emptied of employees, office equipment and furniture in 2015 and internal demolition began taking it “down to the studs” for a complete remodel. Construction began in 2018, and in little more than a year later, the building has been transformed into what is now a modern office building boasting many sustainability features designed to achieve U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED Gold certification.
The renovation will improve and update many important aspects of the almost 60-year-old building including:
- Safety: including better access for first responders
- Security improvements
- Fire suppression system installation
- Americans with Disabilities Act compliance
- Structural upgrades to comply with seismic safety standards
- Improved energy efficiency including a modern energy-efficient HVAC system
The renovation is also a timely opportunity to create a workplace that meets the expectations of employees and future co-workers. Attracting a quality workforce will help ensure SMUD’s success as the local community-owned electric company for decades to come. “Attracting and retaining the best employees is crucial to our continued success, and these much-needed updates help us do that while still maintaining the historic character of the original building,” said Arlen Orchard, SMUD CEO and General Manager.
The building will offer more options for collaboration and mobility like informal meeting areas, teamwork spaces, and additional meeting and conference rooms of various sizes. The building will have an increased focus on employee health and wellbeing.
Getting the best value possible was first and foremost in the planning to revitalize the SMUD Headquarters building. No rate increases were needed to fund it and SMUD managed costs very well throughout. The costs to maintain the original HQ building were in line with the costs to renovate it, but the renovation is a better investment for the future. Furthermore, SMUD used a two-step collaborative design-build process that delivered a guaranteed maximum price of $72.6 million and is considerably lower than the almost $100 million bids the project received when the construction portion of work went out for bid in 2016. The process is a first for SMUD but is quite common in the construction industry and becoming more common in the public sector. Some comparable local collaborative design-build projects are the Yolo Superior Courthouse ($103 million new construction) and the CSU Chico Student Recreation Center ($43 million new construction).
The Headquarters building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010 as an excellent example of Modern International Style. The project maintains the existing historic register standing. SMUD worked with two project and design teams—Roebellen for construction and Dreyfuss+Blackford Architecture (D+B) for the building design. D+B also designed the Headquarters building in 1958.
The building’s exterior signature mosaic Water City—by world-renowned artist Wayne Thiebaud—that wraps three sides of the building, was covered to protect it during the demolition and construction phases. The Italian tile mural was then cleaned, restored and preserved.
Some other sustainability and modernization features that contribute to the building’s revitalization:
- Expanded core: Outdated mechanical shafts and enclosed spaces were replaced with conference rooms and a large open stairway for improved floor-to-floor circulation. Concrete panels were replaced with glass and aluminum framing.
- New sustainable elements: State-of-the-art, high efficiency, low-volume mechanical systems; new insulated glazing; LED lighting; and low water use fixtures installed throughout.
- “Office of the Future” innovations: New sun tracking roller shade system and thermochromic self-tinting glazing in the circulation core; flexible office systems incorporating ergonomic advances; and new landscaping and accessible paths preserving most of the existing outdoor spaces.
- Landscape: Rainwater management and landscape water-use reduction achieved through selective replacement of areas with lower-water use plants and updated site irrigation.
- Visitor and employee safety and security: Lighting and landscape elements designed to incorporate the latest Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) practices.
SMUD’s other large office buildings are also designed to achieve USGBC LEED certification standards. The Customer Service Center, opened in 1992 and located next door to the Headquarters building at 65th and S Streets, is certified LEED Platinum. The East Campus-Operations Center, opened in 2013 and located at Bradshaw Road and Kiefer Boulevard, is also certified LEED Platinum.
As the nation’s sixth-largest, community-owned electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity for more than 70 years to Sacramento County (and small adjoining portions of Placer and Yolo Counties). SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD’s power mix is about 50 percent non-carbon emitting. For more information, visit SMUD.org.
SMUD retained the integrity of the Headquarters Building originally constructed in the late 1950s in renovating and remodeling the 21st century version. From the street, its classic Modern International Style is on display, while boasting LEED Gold certification-worthy features throughout.