Maple Valley Library

client: king county library system

size: 2.4 acres

location: maple valley, washington

duration: 1998–2002

construction cost: $1,750,000

awards: 2003 building with trees award of excellence, national arbor day foundation; 2001 honor award for design, wa chapter, asla

The Maple Valley Library is an innovative model for a community civic core integrated into the Pacific Northwest lowland forest ecosystem. The design embodies the City’s wilderness theme and desire to preserve its native systems.

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The city of Maple Valley’s identity is tied to the fragile second growth lowland forest. The wood and glass pavilion in the forest and its understated site design is a model of sustainability and civic identity.

The design team’s aggressive efforts developed a design defined by the site’s ability to absorb development. Evaluation and mapping of all trees and plants drove building placement and a site design with minimal site impact. Construction was limited to five feet from the building, with restoration in areas of impact. Duff and forest litter was harvested from development areas for redistribution and site restoration.

Rainwater from the roof flows to a central courtyard basin, recharging groundwater. The parking lot winds around trees and parking areas drain into duff-covered rock wells and swales to disperse runoff, aiding groundwater recharge and mimicking predevelopment conditions. The library exemplifies innovative work tied with the native forest and ecosystem services. The final site looks deceptively natural; the design aesthetic is intentionally minimal and understated.

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