The Seattle Public Library Southwest Branch

Seattle, Washington
Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects

An old library is renovated as part of a public initiative.

The renovation and extension of the Southwest Branch Library was made possible as part of the Libraries for All initiative, approved by Seattle voters in 1998. The $196 million bond measure enabled library renovations and new library construction.

The Seattle Public Library Southwest Branch
Photo © Lara Swimmer
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The Southwest Branch building, completed in 1961, was doubled in size to 15,000 square feet. Much of the existing steel structure from the original brick-clad, one-story building was preserved.

The library expansion extends the original building to the street with a two-story addition and entry arcade, increasing the building’s civic presence. The addition is clad in a wood-resin composite panel system. The rebuilt original portion of the building is covered in durable and low-maintenance corrugated cement board.

The renovated library features abundant fenestration, opening the building to light and the surrounding neighborhood. Clerestory windows and a central light well surround the vertical circulation area, bringing natural light deep into the building’s center.

A displacement ventilation system provides natural ventilation—there is no air conditioning—and the central, two-story circulation space and clerestories help release excess heat.

Interior beech wood veneers create a warm and inviting space. British Columbia artist, Katherine Kerr, created an exterior installation piece of outstretched hands, cast from the hands of some of the library’s most active patrons.

Formal name of project: The Seattle Public Library Southwest Branch

Location: Seattle, Washington

Gross square footage: 15,000 sq.ft.

Total construction cost: $6,246,979

Completion Date: February 2006

Owner: Seattle Public Library System

Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects
159 South Jackson Street, Suite 600
Seattle, WA 98104
P: 206-624-5670
F: 206-624-3730

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