Issaquah Public Library

King County Library System, Issaquah, Washington

The Issaquah Public Library is a 15,000 sq. ft. branch library that represents an expansion and modernization of library services for Issaquah in a more prominent and centralized location. It is located in the heart of the historic downtown core, on the corner of Front and Sunset streets. While future downtown planning calls for multi-story urban structures, the library use dictated a single story. The cedar-sided structure resolved this apparent conflict through the use of an exaggerated building height coupled with the use of a trellis and canopies to maintain a humane scale at the street level. These scale elements relate to the cornice height of the neighboring buildings and visually secure the building in its context.

Patrons approach the entry from the new parking structure, passing screens of greenery and artwork, and from Front Street past large multi-paned windows. This rhythm echoes the pattern of shop windows and offers protection through a large overhang and canopies. On the corner is a large covered area, or agora, which serves as a sheltered gathering space and marks the entrance to the building. Activity in the multi-purpose room, adjacent to the agora, is visible from the streetscape. Doors open to the area outside to accommodate special events.

Entering from the agora, patrons pass through a wood-lined lobby and under a pair of tilted columns into the main space. Additional round columns gently taper, accentuating their height, as they rise to meet the wood-lined ceiling. Light filters through clerestory windows to highlight a delicate metal truss at the building's spine while bathing the space in natural light.

Maple desks and bookcase ends carry the warmth of wood throughout the space. Trellises at the children's area and circulation desks mimic the exterior trellis. Stone petroglyphs in the floor, benches and a series of bronze ravens line the entrance sequence while echoing the sense of discovery inherent in the building's design. The library does not plagiarize historical details, but rather appears as a comfortable cousin to its historic neighbors. The new Issaquah Library creates a fresh identity that is both timeless and welcoming.

The Issaquah Library received a 2005 award for design in the joint American Institute of Architects/American Library Association awards program.


2005 Design Award
American Institute of Architects and American Library Association
2004 Citation Award
AIA Washington Council
2002 Citation Award
AIA Washington Council Civic Design Awards
2001 Interior Lighting Design Award
Illuminating Engineering Society, Seattle Section
2001 Edwin F. Guth Memorial Award for Interior Lighting Design
Illuminating Engineering Society, Puget Sound Section
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