The Center for Urban Waters was envisioned by the City of Tacoma to be a beacon on the water, an icon that can be seen from the downtown core and an example of using building and site sustainable strategies for all future projects in the City. The 51,000 square foot, 3-story building functions as a shared research facility for City of Tacoma and University of Washington Tacoma to receive and analyze water samples from the waterways of Tacoma and surrounding areas. The building program is composed of laboratories, offices, conference rooms, a lunch room, an exhibit center, a customer service center at the lobby entrance and related building services including a loading dock and mooring facility on the Thea Foss Waterway. The building is sited to optimize views across the waterway, to maximize public open space and to provide access to the shoreline esplanade and to on-site parking. The building is designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, the highest level of certification available from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Sustainability strategies include natural ventilation of the office environments, sun-shading of the south and west facades, vegetated roofs, stormwater collection and water reuse. Materials selected for the building's interior and exterior were selected based on quantity of recycled content, where the product was manufactured, amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in the product and whether the product was certified (as in the case of wood products). Responsible waste management before and during construction was also a factor in achieving this certification.