The 1998 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Restructuring and Reform Act initiated a study that investigated how to better serve taxpayers and how to increase the productivity of existing processing service centers nationwide. The study recommended consolidating eight locations into one general campus for Kansas City's Service Center. As IRS required over one million square feet of programming space, the biggest challenge for the project team was creating an economically efficient, environmentally responsible, healthy building.
The project team used an integrated process to reach its ecological, economic, and social goals for the project. The team's philosophy was that green design is as much about people, environments, and integration as it is about environmentally friendly design and construction technologies.
The programming needs for IRS are unique because the organization operates at dramatically different capacities at different times of the year. To create the most efficient and sustainable building for the continued processing of paper returns, the 1.14 million-ft2 building was broken down into three 200,000-ft2 processing wings that can be "turned back" during off-peak times. A 70,000–ft2 warehouse is one of two that will continue storing paper returns into the long-term future. A restored historic post office building provides an additional 475,000 ft2 of office space as well as a link to the civic history of the site. The final design breaks down barriers between interior and exterior spaces, creating a strong sense of place for IRS employees.
An underfloor air system with multiple air handlers allows sections of the building to be turned off while maintaining an open floor plan. Breaking the large building into smaller pieces allows for more effective daylighting, and atriums and clerestories provide additional daylight. Belowground parking and green roofs contribute to stormwater management, while low-flow fixtures reduce potable water use.