Seattle-based goCstudio, an architecture studio known for its innovative work and collaborations with artists and craftsmen, has completed the new office expansion for Substantial which occupies the upper floor of a historic building in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.


Substantial is a digital product studio that was founded in 2006 and moved into the 100-year-old building in 2013. goCstudio was brought on board to redesign the entire 14,000-square-foot upper floor of the building to create an open plan office that would accommodate the growing needs of the company.

A Cohesive Work Space

The upper floor at the corner of Pine and Broadway was the home of two office spaces of very different character. Substantial inhabited the smaller of the two and readily took the opportunity to expand into the rest of the floor when the previous tenant moved. The challenge was to create a cohesive open plan work space which retained the feel of the original Substantial space and would maximize the existing character of the building; exposed brick walls, old growth Douglas Fir beams and roof decking, and warehouse style window walls.

The Forum

A strong programmatic concept was required to transform the space. goCstudio proposed the concept of ‘The Forum.’ Architecturally, The Forum became an open space below a new large scale skylight adjacent to the entry staircase. Not only is the skylight used as means to allow natural light into the deep plan of the building, but it also naturally draws people into the heart of the building.

This space became the programmatic organizer of the new insertions which were laid out around it. A strong material palette of ebony stained plywood defines the new insertions which are organized around The Forum and tie the open plan office together. Two existing conference rooms were retained from the previous tenant in the expansion and treated with the same material palette to tie them into the new design. New dedicated spaces were required for conference rooms, quiet rooms, and phone rooms. It was these spaces which were organized around the central forum. The rooms all have large steel and glass doors in the style of the industrial warehouses of the same era as the original building. These openings to the forum allow enclosed spaces to engage with common space, especially when not in use.

Natural Light

For the first time in many years, views are opened up through the building, from east to west. Natural light is able to pour into the space from three sides and from above through the skylight. The new architectural insertions allow a clear understanding of the space and circulation while allowing employees flexibility in the way they work and interact with each other.

Photography by Kevin Scott.