AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Ballard Branch Library and Neighborhood Service Center
(Ballard Library and Neighborhood Center)

The building is lit dramatically in this photo taken from 22nd Avenue Northwest.
Photo credit: Nic Lehoux


  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Building type(s): Other, Library, Assembly
  • New construction
  • 33,200 ft2 (3,080 m2)
  • Urban setting
  • Completed May 2005

This project, the first major building designed within the new Ballard Municipal Master Plan Zone, consists of the 15,000 ft2 Ballard Library, a 3,600 ft2 neighborhood service center, and 18,000 ft2 of below-grade parking.

The new branch has self-checkout stations, 38 computers, a special area for teens, and a meeting room. The children's area in the building's prominent northwest corner overlooks the future municipal park space. Two study rooms provide space for tutoring and other activities, and a small conference room is available for meetings. A quiet room provides an alternative to the activity of the main reading room.

This project was chosen as an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project for 2006. It was submitted by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

The Ballard Library and Neighborhood Service Center draws on this Seattle neighborhood's Scandinavian and maritime roots while focusing on the future of the community, composed of a young, diverse population.

The building presents a powerful civic face along a pedestrian corridor. The main entry is pulled back from the street, allowing for a deep front porch that joins the library and the service center under a large canopy. Grouped site furnishings encourage human interaction, reinforcing the civic nature of this sheltered space.

The gently curving green roof absorbs water, reducing stormwater runoff. The periscope and observation deck invite visitors to engage in the roof's ecology above the street. Daylighting studies allowed the team to maximize the use of varying intensities of natural light, and metered, photovoltaic glass panels shade the Neighborhood Service Center lobby, demonstrating the effectiveness of photovoltaic technology in the Pacific Northwest.

The design team hoped to create a facility that would be a dynamic teaching tool for green design and environmental awareness. The project illustrates that green building is feasible within a modest budget and presents an ideal example of some of the benefits that can be realized when green design combines with extraordinary architecture.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by Seattle Public Library, Local government
  • Typically occupied by 21 person, 52 hours per person per week; and 1,028 visitors per week, 4 hours per visitor per week


Integrated team, Design charrette, Simulation, Commissioning, Performance measurement and verification, Transportation benefits, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Drought-tolerant landscaping, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, On-site renewable electricity, Daylighting

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Last updated: 4/20/2006

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

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