The current Ballard Branch Library is the third building to serve that purpose, beginning with a 1904 building donated by Andrew Carnegie. The 2005 building, designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, is part of a plan for an urban “core” to revitalize the Ballard neighborhood. It features natural-looking wood beams, big windows, and innovative sustainable features. These include a green roof, planted with live grasses and wildflowers that insulate the building and absorb rainwater rather than sending it to gutters. Visitors can see the roof from an observation room upstairs from the main level of the library. The top-level also contains a collection of books and old documents on Seattle history.
Ballard Branch Library. Photo: Scott Beale, CC BY-NC-ND via flickr. Ballard Branch Library. Photo: Jules Antonio, CC BY-SA 2.0.
Jackson has designed homes and public buildings around the US, including a home for Bill Gates in Medina, Washington, buildings for Disney and Pixar in California, and the Apple Stores in New York and several other big cities. She was also co-designer of Seattle City Hall and has won hundreds of awards for sustainable design. Here’s how her firm’s website describes the Ballard Branch Library:
“The building’s glass skin lets natural light in and bends around the corners, marking the children’s area and service center lobby as special places. A public meeting room, clad in shimmery galvanized shingles, anchors one corner. A periscope, integrated into a wall by the circulation desk, offers patrons views of the green roof. Data about wind, energy usage, and rainfall is displayed on LED panels as artwork, making microclimatic conditions created by the building visible to all. Metered photovoltaic panels in the southwest windows reduce heat gain while demonstrating the effectiveness of solar energy in the Pacific Northwest.”
— Source: BCJ, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson,
Inside the Ballard Branch Library. Photo: Dennis Bratland, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. The Ballard Branch Library. Photo: javacoleen, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via flickr. A portion of Ballard Branch Library’s green roof. Photo: Scott Beale, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via flickr. Inside the Ballard Branch Library. Photo: Dennis Bratland, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Cover photo: Jules Antonio, CC BY-SA 2.0.