Ballard Library + Neighborhood Service Center

client: seattle public library

size: 5.8 acres

location: seattle, washington

duration: 2000–2005

construction cost: $10,600,000

awards: 2006 green good design; 2009 beyond green award, sustainable buildings industry council; 2008 excellence in place design, environmental design research association and metropolis magazine; 2006 civic design award, aia, wa council; 2006 green roof award of excellence, green roofs for healthy cities; 2006 top 10 green buildings, aia coe; 2003 commendation for design excellence, seattle design commission

The Ballard Library and Neighborhood Service Center is a community icon and locus for civic life in this maturing urban village. The library is Seattle’s most heavily used neighborhood library and generously contributes to the culture and ecology of the community.

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As the center of the 2002 Ballard Municipal Master Plan, the project creates a generous civic environment and integrates the community’s environmental values. 

A block-long arcade joins the two public services under a large canopy, creating common spaces flanked by wooden columns and ample seating. Wide, dense plantings partially enclose the plaza and separate pedestrians and vehicles. A living roof covers 75% of the site, substantially reducing site stormwater runoff and providing a publically accessible demonstration of sustainable practices. The roof is visible through a periscope located in the library, and anemometers track local wind data for study.

The project recognizes Ballard’s history and supports its revitalization as an urban village. The sloped roof of the building is reminiscent of Ballard’s nautical heritage, and the clean modern use of materials calls to mind the best of Scandinavian design. The arcade and plaza offer the neighborhood a comfortable, urban street environment that brings the activity of Market Street northward in a gesture toward Ballard Commons Park.

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