Bainbridge Island, WA, is a
bedroom community of Seattle located across Elliot Bay to
the west. Surrounded by water and covered in verdant growth,
the island mentality supports conservation. Thus, green design
was the only appropriate choice for the islands new
Completed in the spring of 2000, the 24,000-square-foot, two-story
building is located in Bainbridge Islands downtown district.
The new building combines five previously dispersed city departments
into one more efficient location, thereby reducing traffic
across the island. In addition, pedestrian access is encouraged
through the location of the building and the connection of
walkways to downtown pedestrian paths. The public green outside
City Hall was even constructed with reinforced turf in order
to serve as a farmers market on weekends and an overflow
parking lot for the adjacent arts building.
Six Submissions to
the annual "What Makes It Green?" exhibit.
The exterior architecture of city hall is respectful of the other
buildings in the downtown district.
Bainbridge Island has a residential character and there are
many historic homes, says Craig Curtis, partner, The Miller/Hull
Partnership, Seattle, and a citizen of Bainbridge Island. Even
downtown has residential styled buildings that are used for commercial
purposes. Therefore, we needed to be sensitive to the existing character
of the area and not create a building that would dominate the street.
The building was broken down into smaller-scale units that better
relate to the streets existing architecture.
Inside, the first floor is dominated by what the design team calls
main street. Two 60-foot-long counters run down either
side of the interior. The citys various departments all have
designated spots along the counters, so a number of transactions
can take place at the same time, thereby eliminating long waiting
A large skylight and big windows flood main street with daylight.
These, plus the open floor plan and light colored interiors, reduce
the need for electric lighting throughout the space. Large overhangs,
operable windows and the open office plan help minimize and mitigate
heat gain through windows, thus decreasing the load on the cooling
system. Operable windows also allow users to control their own environment
more than in a typical office building.
To maintain indoor air quality, low VOC and non-toxic paints, stains
and flooring adhesive, as well as FDA-approved wood treatments,
were used rather than standard alternatives. In addition, carpet
exceeds Wash-ington State Indoor Air Quality Standards and construction
was sequenced to avoid leaving a legacy of problems due to dust
or moisture in the building systems.
The city was particularly interested in having a healthy place
for employees to work because absenteeism from sick-building syndrome
had been a problem in previous city offices, Curtis explains.
So, they pushed for indoor air quality and natural light.
One issue that the architects had to push was the use of certified
lumber. Because the client was worried about the cost of certified
wood, non-certified wood was bid as an alternate. The end package
for choosing certified wood amounted to an increase of some $8,000,
which the city could justify as a small part of the total cost,
as well as for its other benefits. Thus, the entire framing package
for the building70,000 board feetwas supplied out of
third-party certified wood.
At the turn of the century, Bainbridge Island was clear cut,
says Curtis. Today, the island is very committed to the second
growth forest that has grown back. So, it seemed rather fitting
to choose certified wood for the towns city hall.
The project minimizes the impact on surrounding waterways by using
an infill site in a developed area of town. The citys storm
water management system, which was significantly upgraded as part
of site preparation, reduces runoff and thereby protects natural