The $50-million, 200,000-sq-ft, Class A build-to-suit office building has indoor and outdoor environments that appeal to the well-educated, ecologically savvy employees who work at companies like Google or Apple. These workers want contemporary design, fitness centers, lots of sunlight in work spaces, energy efficiency and attractive natural areas outside a building.
"We're talking about the millennials, who like amenities," says David Brems, founding principal at GSBS Architects of Salt Lake City, which designed the Xactware building and is the principal architecture firm for the Traverse Mountain mixed-use business park where the structure is located. "They don't come [to work] in suits and ties; they come on mountain bikes," he says.
"People are starting to call the Lehi area a mini-Silicon Valley," says Jonathan "Jono" Gardner, managing director of Entrada Capital Partners, Salt Lake City. "Fortune 500 companies and emerging market companies are coming to this area. Microsoft is here, and Xactware Solutions Inc. is the next big tenant." Entrada Capital Partners is the owner's representative for Xactware's Lehi landlord, Riverbend Holdings of Idaho Falls, Idaho. Riverbend is the owner and developer of Traverse Mountain.
Xactware was formerly based in Orem, about 20 minutes southeast of Lehi, but found the Lehi site a better draw for the kind of employees it wants. The city sits between two of Utah's largest cities, Salt Lake City and Provo, and a pair of its major universities—the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. The schools are attractive to businesses because of their technological savvy as well as their ready-for-market graduates.
Xactware produces management software for the property insurance, remodeling and restoration industries and is part of Verisk Analytics Inc. of Jersey City, N.J., a risk-assessment services provider.
Construction on the Xactware building, which can accommodate 1,000 people, started in October 2012, and the company began moving roughly 525 employees into the facility in February. During peak construction last summer, the building skin was created and interior work began with 180 workers on site. The project's grand opening is scheduled for May 15 to coincide with Xactware's Founders Week activities. The company was launched in 1986 by the late James Bradford Loveland, a Brigham Young graduate and owner of Loveland Construction, one of Utah's largest building restoration firms.
"We wanted a building that would facilitate our culture, where we give employees the ability to be collaborative," says Jim Evans, Xactware's chief operating officer. "In the new building, we have modular offices with glass fronts instead of a solid wall. The idea is to allow more light to flow in for everyone."
To make sure the Xactware building interior provides ample access to light and unobstructed views, the originally planned cross-brace structural system was changed to a more open moment frame after the project was under way. But because the project is collaborative design-build and contractors used building information modeling, the structural change went smoothly. "Because we had a good BIM model, we could do it," Brems says.
"The entire team came together and dropped everything," Gardner says of the support-system change. "They went into a room for two or three days and said this is how we're going to do this."
The four-story Xactware facility is the first building in the commercial part of the Traverse Mountain development, so Riverbend Holdings wanted it to make a statement. The location on a hillside near scenic Mount Timpanogos off Interstate 15, Utah's main north-south artery, is part of that statement. The building also looks out over the sprawling Utah Valley. Roughly 1 million sq ft of office space, some 300,000 sq ft of retail space and a 100- to 150-room hotel are planned for the 117-acre commercial development.
"This building has some of the best views in the state," says Brian Johnson, project superintendent at general contractor Big-D Construction Corp., Salt Lake City, the general contractor. "You get to the fourth floor, and you're looking all the way across Utah Lake and Provo."
The hillside site proved challenging during construction on days when winds hit 45 miles per hour and gusts topped 75 mph. But Big-D "planned accordingly" at preconstruction meetings, including keeping tabs on weather reports to prepare for windy days, Johnson says.
The Xactware building—with the clean, modern look that appeals to a tech-savvy work force—has a silver-gray zinc skin with a 100-year life. The contemporary color palette carries through the building interior as well, with each floor having a unique color scheme from bright blue to lime green. "You key into where you are with patterns, colors on walls, tiles and floor materials," says Brems, who grew up in Lehi.
Contractors expect the structure's core and shell to earn LEED-Silver certification. Sustainable features include low-water exterior landscaping. Lifestyle amenities run the gamut from a fitness center with a climbing wall to outdoor basketball and volleyball courts, plus an outside pavilion where people can have lunch.
Unlike typical office buildings that use boiler/chiller mechanical systems, the Xactware building features Mitsubishi Electric Corp.'s energy-efficient variable refrigerant flow cooling and heating system. VRF provides distributed air flow where and when it's needed, depending on sunlight, as well as independent control of indoor units. "It's modular and very efficient," says Taylor Groberg, an engineer with mechanical contractor Gunthers Inc., American Fork, Utah.