SKYWAY LIBRARY – A LANDMARK LIBRARY FOR THE DOWNTOWN SEATTLE COMMUNITY
Dri-Design panels have been known to turn heads for their looks, but they were selected for the Skyway Library in Seattle because they can turn around a building. The entire exterior of the library is wrapped in Dri-Design Wall Panels, creating a landmark destination for the downtown district. The joint venture architects of BuildingWork and Weinstein AU, both of Seattle, were adamant that the last piece of metal panel had to circle back and meet the first—with precision.
“We envisioned the building as a solid, three-dimensional sculptural form,” says Matt Aalfs, design principal/project manager with BuildingWork. “With Dri-Design, the corner panels allowed us to have the cladding turn the corner while achieving this goal. We could not achieved this with a two-dimensional metal panel product system.”
RSB Construction Inc., Spanaway, Wash., installed the 0.080-inch aluminum Dri-Design Wall Panels in three shades of Starry Night Blue. The three blue shades were chosen so they stand out during the day and blend into the sky at twilight. The dark blue colors give depth to the panels and offer a slight color shift that becomes more dramatic with varying amounts of sunlight. Dri-Design Painted Aluminum Panels offer the ultimate design flexibility for exterior and interior applications, and the Fluoropolymer-based paints provide a durable finish. Dri-Design’s finishers use a 100 percent air capture system to destroy any VOCs produced during the coating process, so there are no adverse environmental impacts.
“We offer our panels in any color, and there are no expensive upcharges for custom applications,” says Brad Zeeff, president of Dri-Design. “The painting process is another step in our sustainable manufacturing process. Not using plastic cores, tapes or sealants, in conjunction with no VOCs, speaks to the integrity of the Dri-Design panels and means something to our customers.”
The goal for the 8,000-square-foot library was to bring inspiration to a neighborhood littered with non-descript buildings. The design team considered many other materials, but only metal wall panels felt right. Brick was found to be too conventional, and standard metal siding was deemed not special enough. Even a terra cotta rainscreen system was studied, but it lacked the sought-after impact.
Aalfs notes: “The exterior skin was the most important part of the project. From early on, we made the decision not to puncture the Dri-Design skin in any way, so creating space for all the necessary elements took many iterations, and we are thrilled with the results.”
The building is triangular on a tight, angled site. The entrance anchors the building and was placed at the main intersection, where a front porch welcomes patrons. All three sides, however, are considered prominent, and there is no back side to the building. Because of this, the mechanicals, which typically sit in a building’s back, were hidden in a sunken penthouse on the roof that is not visible from the street. A carefully placed skylight is the only aspect of the library visible above the parapet, and it is washed in color-changing LEDS. The dramatic effect enhances the playful feel in the children’s area below. The northeast corner of the building houses the community meeting room. This area has seating for plenty at a 17-foot-long study table made from a repurposed Boeing airplane tail wing. A 20-foot-high window wall provides transparency in, to see the library activities, and out, to admire the views of Mount Rainier.
“This neighborhood was ready for a positive change to tie the residents and businesses together, and the Skyway Library is the catalyst to do so,” Zeeff says. “The metal is on display with every turn to showcase the versatility of Dri-Design Wall Panels and highlight what can be done when residents and designers come together to inspire a community.”