In the News

We recently announced the winners of our first annual internal Design Excellence Awards

In celebration of our firm’s creative design process, we recently introduced our inaugural internal Design Excellence Awards. From conception through construction, collaboration and innovation allow our team to design contemporary spaces featuring different areas of our expertise. The Design Excellence Awards showcase our collaborative approach in advancing creative design through our various disciplines and delivering the best solutions for our users and communities.

More than 30 impressive projects were submitted, and winners were recently announced. Scores were weighted on four different categories: Concept, Process, Design and Presentation Graphics. Eleven of our esteemed leaders served as judges for the awards.

People’s Choice Award

Winners and runners up were selected in four different categories: Interior Design, Architecture, Civil and Multidisciplinary. There was also a “People’s Choice” winner, Eagle Rock Beverage. The multidisciplinary project design impressed the judges.

The new flagship facility for the beverage distributer, Eagle Rock, featured civil engineering, architecture and interior architecture and design services. The design features 240,000 square feet of Controlled Environment Warehouse (CEW) space and a 40-foot clear rack space throughout, setting a new standard for industrial space in the local market.

Some unique challenges overcome on this project included a difficult site with various constraints, namely a local mouse habitat, local resistance to industrial development, as well as a steep site that required close collaboration between all departments involved in the project.

With the Colorado mountaintops looming to the West of the building, one of the design challenges was to create a design that utilized the natural elements of the surrounding aesthetics while also making a statement. By grouping the office and amenity spaces towards the mountains, spectacular views were created. In addition to the views, natural materials typical to the region, such as heavy timber wood and stone wall cladding, were utilized to instill a uniquely serene experience of rustic modernity.

Eagle Rock Beverage Rendering

Eagle Rock wanted additional space to host events outside all year round. To accommodate this, the architecture team coordinated with our mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP) and structural engineers to create a covered, two-story patio heated with radiators and fire pits. The main fire pit’s back wall follows the flow of the stairs acting as a screen wall while allowing space for Eagle Rock’s logo.

From a civil engineering perspective, existing grades across the site presented challenges due to a more than 40-foot drop in elevation. A collaborative effort with the team and client was used to develop a solution that balanced the earthwork on site, while reducing the number of walls required. This method kept costs down while also meeting the design requirements set forth for the project.

The Interior Architecture & Design team focused on bringing Eagle Rock’s employees together with a hospitality driven approach. As a beverage distributor, Eagle Rock needed a flexible design for their office space that would allow them to entertain clients daily, but also provide privacy for heads down work. The first level of the office is strategically split between ‘public’ and ‘private’ areas. Two large event spaces are available for training events and can be rented out to the public. Employee experience also plays a key component in the office layout, with a variety of amenities including an outdoor patio, gym and collaboration spaces.

Overall Best in Class Winner

The highest honor, “Overall Best in Class,” was awarded for a speculative life science campus design in San Diego. The project received high praise from Senior Fellow Creative Design and Design Excellence Awards judge, John Thomas.

Spread between two buildings sharing a community amenity, the 270,000 square foot speculative life science campus was designed with a goal of creating a unique campus feel that blends a fresh, forward-thinking design while remaining complementary to the adjacent architecture and surrounding community. The Class A lab and office space marks a gateway to a larger collection of office and life science buildings, which positions the project as a beacon of innovation for the surrounding community.

In designing the space, the team overcame significant obstacles. A large berm between parcels and steep slopes at the perimeter limited development area. The team worked diligently to deliver a site solution that balances leasable square footage and a market driven parking ratio of 2.5 spaces per 1,000 square feet. This ensured the speculative campus maintained maximum flexibility and a competitive edge in an aggressive market.

A fixed floor to floor height and definitive exterior wall section composition inherently leads to a very horizontal expression, which was not part of client’s architectural vision. Our design team re-scaled the slab expression to emphasize verticality and begin masking the horizontality of the required building tectonics.

Additionally, the design team sculpted the overall building mass to create a “layering” of volumes. This helped give the appearance of a smaller building and a more friendly human experience at the building’s entry. The campus design follows a leasing strategy that focuses on a single tenant while also offering flexibility for multi-tenant scenarios.

The idea for the Design Excellence Awards was inspired by our WM 5.0 Program, an initiative to achieve continuous firmwide improvement and transform employee-generated ideas into action. We anticipate continuing with this tradition moving forward and look forward to more amazing project submittals in 2023.

To see more of our completed work, visit our portfolio page on our website.

WM Canvas


Jinger Tapia