Open House – Come on Down

RN open house merged photo 300Robinson Noble is having an open house at our new Tacoma office on May 15 from 3 to 6 pm. I’d like to send  you a person invitation, so please come on down for a visit and a tour  the new place. We will be serving food from the local Neighbor Bistro, beer from local breweries (not sure which ones yet, Jim and I will be doing sample tastings later today just to make sure we pick the correct brews – work can be so hard sometimes), Washington wines, and various soft drinks.

We are located at 2105 South C Street, just south of S 21st and two blocks up the hill from Pacific. The Holiday Inn is across C Street and UW Tacoma across 21st. It’s easy to find, the first downtown Tacoma off ramp from Interstate 705 exits onto 21st just a few blocks east of our office. Parking can be a bit tight in downtown Tacoma, so we’ve arranged with the Holiday Inn to open their gravel parking lot just to the south of the hotel on C Street.

Come on by and say hello!

Robinson Noble Moves “Uptown”

Last week, Robinson Noble moved our Tacoma office “uptown” by making the big jump to downtown. Our new address is: 2105 South C Street, Tacoma, WA 98402. The office is now in the Brewery District of downtown (perfect for a bunch of geologists), one of the up and coming areas of the city. (BTW, my reference to uptown should not be confused with University Place, also known as UP-town, which according to the Urban Slang Dictionary, is “short for University Place, a totally badass little city of about 45000 right to the South of Tacoma, Washington. It’s used somewhat ironically as ghetto slang, since UP is an affluent suburban community.” Our old office, on Huson Street, was only two blocks east of University Place. So indeed, we moved away from UP-town as well as moving uptown.)

Robinson Noble's new office prior to tenant improvements.

Robinson Noble’s new office on June 24th,  prior to building any tenant improvements.

In the 68-year history of the firm, this is the eighth Robinson Noble office in the Tacoma area. I personally have worked in five Through each of its moves, the company has moved progressively north and closer to the heart of Tacoma, finally now to be in the downtown.

The firm started in John Robinson’s basement in Lakewood (then unincorporated Pierce County), but after 25 years, in 1972,  John Noble, got tired of the basement life, asked for and was granted shareholder status in the firm, renamed the firm from Robinson & Roberts to Robinson & Noble, and promptly moved the company out of the basement to a small above-ground office near Robinson’s house.

Later, after a brief stay in yet another small Lakewood office, the company moved back into a basement in 1980. This one, a daylight basement, was finally in Tacoma, though just barely. It was located on Orchard Street, literally on the Tacoma side of the Tacoma-Lakewood boundary (so close to the boundary line, in fact, that we thought we were in Lakewood and didn’t pay Tacoma B&O taxes  – that is until a City tax auditor came a calling, but that is another story). This first Orchard Street office was the home of the company when I joined the firm in 1985. My memory of it was that it was dark and dank, and had awful green-colored carpet. The courtyard outside the office regularly flooded in the winter, and we were the savior of of the other tenants sharing the courtyard by pulling out our field pumps to clear remove Lake Noble (as us peons referred to it).

When the basement became too dank, and we needed a bit more room, John moved us upstairs in the same building. This new office provided a little more space and a lot more natural light. The space only lasted several years, and in 1997, we moved about three blocks further north into Tacoma, though still on Orchard Street. This 3rd Orchard Street office included an entire small office building that, I think, was designed for dental or medical offices. Important to us was the storage space downstairs for files, field equipment, and our small soils and water lab.

After Robinson Noble purchased Saltbush Environmental in 2003, we gained not only new staff but new equipment, and the office on Orchard Street was too small. We looked for a new place with a combination of office and warehouse space. We settled on our former office on Huson Street, several miles further north but only one block off Orchard Street. We designed the interior layout ourselves, which proved that we are not architects.

The Huson office was our home for 10 years and served us well. But earlier this year when we approached the end of the lease, we looked for someplace new. Horizon Partners offered us the third floor of the historic J.E. Aubry Wagons Building and a storage/lab space across the street. Though not much to look at from the outside, I loved the brick walls and wooden beamed ceiling. Besides, I’m a sucker for old buildings. I live in a north Tacoma house built in 1909. Our “new” office building was built in 1905.

After much interior planning (which we did not do ourselves this time) and even longer lease negotiations, we moved the weekend after Thanksgiving and officially took up residence on December 1st.

Robinson Noble's office on December 9th following our move over Thanksgiving.

Robinson Noble’s office on December 9th following our move over Thanksgiving.

If you are in the neighborhood, please stop by and say hello. We are across C Street from the Holiday Inn Express, and the Harmon Brewery and UW-Tacoma are to our north across 21st Street. All our other contact information (phone, fax, emails, website, and blog) are unchanged. We will be  hosting an open  house in the new space next May; keep posted for details.

Pacific Avenue Rain Gardens

Recently, Tacoma has been receiving national and international attention for its approach to storm water pollution. One of the many ways the City has been tackling this issue is through the use of rain gardens, landscaped catchment basins designed to intercept and filter storm water prior to discharging to Puget Sound.

Mike Krautkramer and Jim Hay cleaning one of the two adopted rain gardens (photo credit: Joe Becker)

There are 14 rain gardens incorporated in the recently completed Pacific Avenue Streetscape Project, located along Pacific Avenue between South 7th and 15th Streets. The plantings are a welcome addition to this downtown corridor, and a local artist’s sculpture pieces add a splash of color and whimsy.

In May, Robinson Noble officially adopted two of the City’s rain gardens, located at Rain garden sign15th Street and Pacific Avenue in front of the DaVita Building and the Aviateur French Restaurant. We maintain the gardens to keep them clean and monitor them to verify that they function as intended. Robinson Noble is also sponsoring Wellspring 2014, a two-day conference focused on clean water issues and technologies held at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center on October 14th and 15th. Come join us!