This highly visible building has become an icon for the community and a statement of its values.
The Ballard Library and Neighborhood Center is the first major project to be built in a developing urban core in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. This highly visible building has become an icon for the community and a statement of its values and has the distinction of being the most visited of all Seattle’s branch libraries. An illustration of green building on a modest budget, this project shows what benefits are realized when sustainable design is combined with extraordinary architecture.
The building presents a powerful civic face along one of the neighborhood’s major pedestrian routes. The building’s extended front porch, a gathering space that provides shelter from wind and weather, leads toward the Ballard’s retail center one block away. Sitting at this potent location, it has a transparency that provides a sense of intimacy within the community. The design subtly reflects the area’s Scandinavian and maritime roots. Tapered steel columns, standing like masts, support a lilting green roof that extends beyond the entrance and unites the library and service center components.
The building’s glass skin lets natural light in and bends around the corners, marking the children’s area and service center lobby as special places. A public meeting room, clad in shimmering galvanized shingles, anchors one corner. A periscope, integrated into a wall near the circulation desk, offers patrons views of the green roof. Data about wind, energy usage and rainfall is displayed on LED panels as artwork, making microclimatic conditions created by the building visible to all. Metered photovoltaic panels in the southwest windows reduce heat gain while demonstrating the effectiveness of solar energy in the Pacific Northwest.
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