Washington Fruit & Produce Co

Yakima, Washington, United States / Graham Baba Architects


Agriculture is the dominating influence in Yakima, Washington, where volcanic soil, sunshine, and irrigation from the Yakima River support the area’s fruit orchards. Washington Fruit, family owned and operated since 1916, grows, packs and ships premium fruit products throughout the world. Their facilities occupy 90 acres of industrial land, including world-class sorting and packing equipment.

Company leaders desired a new headquarters that would serve as a refuge from the surrounding industrial agribusiness landscape, filled with concrete warehouses, trucks, and pavement. They asked for warmer materials, minimal concrete, non-boxlike forms, protection from the nearby freeway, and little visible equipment or devices. Light and acoustics were high priorities.

The approach for the new office was to create an inwardly-focused oasis. Freeways and agribusiness are obscured by earth berms and a site wall, placed to direct views toward the basalt hills in the distance. At the heart of the site is a landscaped courtyard onto which most of the project’s occupied spaces are oriented.

An abandoned wood barn was the single architectural reference given to the design team, providing a metaphor for the new building. It is imagined as a barn in some state of decay with nature in the process of reclamation. Portions of the simple gable form have been “removed” or lost, and the barn structure is “exposed” and expressed as diagonal structure.

Eighteen-foot-tall scissored columns reveal the physics of the construction, resulting in a 175-foot-long column-free interior volume. The outer shell is clad in reclaimed barn wood and a weathering steel roof. A lunchroom includes a kitchen and table for 30, providing gathering space for weekly meals when field staff come in from the orchards. The deep agricultural roots in both company and location give meaning to the pure design concept with attention to detail throughout the project.

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