Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance — Seattle, WA

Seattle Storm Takes Cover in Women-Designed HQ

 
WNBA Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance
Size
50,000 SF
Architects
ZGF Architects
Shive-Hattery
Contractor
Sellen Construction
Developers
Force 10 Enterprises
barrientosRyan
Sustainable Benchmark
LEED Gold
Awards
NRMCA - Concrete Innovations Winner

The new state-of-the-art practice facility and headquarters for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm contains basketball courts, hydrotherapy pools, locker rooms, a nutrition hub, strength and conditioning center, players’ lounge, and offices. Aligned with the Storm’s equity goals, Holmes contributed an all-women crew of highly technical, collaborative structural and fire engineers toward the 85%-women-led design team. This is the first facility purpose-built for the WNBA and professional women’s basketball.

Women-led design and project team behind the Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance WNBA Headquarters HQ in Seattle at groundbreaking ceremony.
Women-led design team members at the groundbreaking ceremony

This venture at its core is about creating space for girls and women to become themselves fully. We are building this facility to make space for our franchise, our athletes, the individuals who comprise our company to thrive and to set a new expectation that this is what female pro athletes and, more broadly, all girls and women deserve: space for themselves.

Ginny Gilder, Force 10 Enterprises
WNBA Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance

From the jump, structural engineers informed a sustainable solution delivered within budget and schedule. Initially, Holmes saved money and resources by lowering the building’s risk category based on its intended use as a private practice facility. After evaluating material options with Life Cycle Analysis (including steel and mass timber alternates), the project team selected a two-story tilt-up, low-carbon concrete building. Holmes collaborated with the architect, contractor, and supplier to specify low-carbon concrete mixes—down 35% compared to industry average mixes. Holmes fit low-carbon concrete curing within the project schedule—gradually incorporating cement replacements (such as slag from steel mill furnaces) to meet high-strength requirements.

We’re grateful to deliver The Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance after 2.5 years of involvement. We appreciate the opportunity to help set a standard for professional women’s sports facilities design. It’s incredible to support such a values-aligned team and intentional ownership group. This journey has truly created lifelong fans out of this project team.

Emily Carlip, Associate Principal
Women engineers of women-led design team with Sue Bird at Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance in Seattle WA
Holmes engineers with Seattle Storm legend Sue Bird onsite
Women-led project team tops out the Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance with steel beam in Seattle WA
Celebrating the structural topping out ceremony

For tilt-up construction, Holmes accommodated phased concrete pours and lifts, concealing connections between the walls as they pieced together to form the lateral system. Exposed sandwich tilt-up walls at the facade and majority of interiors also proved resourceful and economical. Practice court walls depict the Cascade Mountain Range silhouettes in shades of grey while channeling the Interbay neighborhood’s industrial aesthetic. Holmes recommended an open steel joist system to bridge the courts and support solar panels above: a light-weight, long-span truss with less material volume and cost. Deeper down, Holmes overcame different foundation grades—landing tilt-up walls on stepped retaining walls and overcoming liquefiable soils with augercast piles. In total, the facility achieved a 20% reduction in embodied carbon compared with a baseline regional concrete building.

Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance under construction with sustainable low-carbon concrete and open steel joist system at practice courts under construction
Tilt-up walls surrounding practice courts flex 35% embodied carbon reduction from industry average mixes

Early on, the fire engineering team identified viable construction types at play. To save money and simplify solutions, Holmes justified lower occupant loads via Alternate Means and Methods Requests with the City. Backed by Seattle Storm representatives, Holmes clarified the facility’s primary use as a private athletic practice building rather than public assembly space. As such, Holmes significantly cut the cost and count of plumbing fixtures based on the reduced occupant load. Additionally, Holmes streamlined egress pathways and requirements at the hydrotherapy room.

WNBA Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance

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