Bellingham Public Library

ClientWhatcom County Public Library System
LocationBellingham, WA
HighlightsPublic Libraries, Public Buildings, Placemaking, Genius Loci, Community Spaces, Building Assessments, Programming, Downtown

Located in downtown Bellingham, this well-loved, heavily used library was in need of updating. The scope included the renovation of 19,000 sf of the library’s main level. The project goals were to improve public access to the collections within the space and provide room for new technology, consolidate staff workspaces to a suite, relocate the young adult collections and public access computer sections for better safety and security, increase the amount of flexible seating for users, and refresh the interior spaces throughout. We were also responsible for building assessments and programming as well as addressing public input to ultimately create the design strategy.

Programmatic spaces were relocated for better functionality and to create a more open, fluid entry for visitors. The Young Adults section—previously located in an area providing little supervision or visibility—was relocated to a more prominent area, offering good staff sightlines and adjacent to the busy Help Desk. The public access computers were also relocated to a more safe and secure area of the library.

By adjusting collections areas, we increased open seating capacity along the entire north side with improved access to daylighting and views to the park. This new area is open and cheerful and offers a variety of seating configurations for patrons. For more privacy or other community uses, three rooms were added that can be reserved for tutoring, quiet study, or research.

The timeworn interiors were transformed to welcoming spaces with new finishes, a bright color palette, new flooring and ceilings, and LED lighting. In addition, new window glazing replaced the old, heavily tinted glazing maximizing daylight within the space. The interior scope also included new stairwell finishes, new all-gender toilet rooms at the main level, and elevator upgrades.

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