The topping out of Apex Plaza was celebrated during a ceremony Wednesday morning hosted by Apex Clean Energy.
Apex Plaza is an office building going up on Garrett Street in downtown Charlottesville. The structure will be the tallest mass timber building on the East Coast, according to Apex. It is the first large-scale mass timber project in Virginia and one of only a few in the United States. Construction is expected to be completed in December.
The topping out is a traditional builders’ ceremony to celebrate the last beam placed atop a structure during construction. Attendees of the topping out ceremony were given the opportunity to sign their names on the beam before it was put in place.
The 187,000-square-foot building, designed by architect William McDonough, will include retail, office and living spaces adjacent to the Downtown Mall. It will feature six floors of cross-laminated timber construction. The building will have additional sustainability features, including cradle-to-cradle design, a green roof and on-site solar energy generation.
“Mass timber construction is the most sustainable way that you can build an office building of this size,” said Mark Goodwin, president and CEO of Apex Clean Energy.
Apex officials estimate that using sustainably harvested timber decreases the carbon footprint of the building by an estimated 3,000 metric tons.
Apex Clean Energy is a Charlottesville-based firm that has helped to develop solar and wind energy farms in Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois and Michigan. The firm partnered with Riverbend Development, the Hourigan Group and architectural firm William McDonough + Partners to build an office building that uses clean energy.
Apex will take up 84,000 square feet of the building, equal to the structure’s top three floors, to house offices for its 170 local employees. Currently, the company leases space across three different buildings in Charlottesville.
“It’s going to be a building that has over 300 kilowatts of solar power on it, and what that will do is enable Apex to be net zero in this office. So we will generate as much power as we use in the building,” Goodwin said.
“We also will have on-site energy storage, and that will have some demand response capabilities and back up some of our business functions,” he said.
Goodwin said there will be electric vehicle charging stations and employees will be encouraged to drive electric vehicles to work.
The Southern Environmental Law Center has leased 27,466 square feet of space within the building and will be combining its headquarters and Virginia offices at the site in early 2022.
Other tenants include Hourigan, ACAC Fitness and Wellness and Riverbend Development.
“We’re a big fan of sustainability,” said Mark Hourigan, CEO of the Hourigan Group, the builder and developer of the building.
“LEED Gold, LEED Silver, LEED Platinum projects are things we do on a regular basis. We think it’s good for the industry, obviously, and the economy and the environment,” he said.
Goodwin said he is excited that his business will become a part of the Charlottesville community near the mall.
“We’re a Charlottesville company, and we love this town and we want our offices to be on the Downtown Mall, but it’s been a challenge to get us all under one building. And the city of Charlottesville was very supportive of us putting this building in, and it means a lot because … we want our business [to be] collaborative,” he said.