Project of the Year & Best Office: DPR Construction Phoenix Regional Office

When looking for a location to build a showcase office, most companies wouldn't consider a decrepit adult-themed boutique as their top choice.

But it was love at first site for DPR Construction, which was seeking a central Phoenix building that could be adapted to become a forward-thinking model of sustainability. Built in 1972, the 16,533-sq-ft retail building is located near a light rail line and just north of Sky Harbor Airport.

DPR had already constructed a net-zero building in San Diego (a Best Projects 2010 winner in ENR California) and was gearing up to build another one in Newport Beach, Calif.

"As a company, net zero seems to be, especially in Arizona, the most measurably sustainable level you can be," says Cassie Robertson, DPR project manager. "Our San Diego office set that into place, and we wanted to take on the challenge of doing that in Phoenix."

While reaching net zero was a primary goal from the first day of planning, LEED certification wasn't a written goal. It was just assumed, says Mark Roddy, principal with SmithGroupJJR, and the building's architect.

The assumption was right: The building went on to attain LEED-Platinum certification.

Model of Sustainability

The 10-month-long design, permitting and build-out transformed the retail store into modern open office space that is comfortable and appealing, with custom bamboo woodwork and flexible workstations surrounded by sleek meeting spaces. Workers can relax at a gym, wine bar, café or in courtyards screened with native plants. There are no enclosed offices, but privacy is available in conference rooms and phone rooms.