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Take a peek inside the new Tukwila Library

King County Library System’s newly-completed branch includes public art and sustainable design

Courtesy of Perkins and Will

The new Tukwila Library, part of the King County Public Library System, opened April 29—and architecture firm Perkins and Will shared some details about the design, construction, and art.

The library was designed to “showcase natural elements of the Pacific Northwest—both inside and out,” said the firm.

Locally-sourced wood was used in the interiors, for example, and native plants were used in the landscaping. That includes hazelnut trees, which are a nod to the city itself: “Tukwila” is the Duwamish word for hazelnut. The city was originally named for the hazelnut forests that grew around it.

In between the interior and the landscaping, the exterior of the building tends toward the metallic: zinc cladding and aluminum sunshades, accented by charcoal terracotta and colorful glass.

Floor-to-ceiling windows take in the landscaping outside and invite passerby inside.

The roof is constructed with cross-laminated timber, a rising star in sustainable building materials. Its wood density helps reduce a building’s carbon footprint, and it can be made from smaller-diameter trees that otherwise could be wasted.

In this case, according to Perkins and Will, the effect is carbon-negative: The wood used in constructing the library “sequesters the same amount of carbon emitted by 91 cars in one year.”

On top of that timber roof are heat- and drought-tolerant native plants, which help maintain a comfortable temperature inside the building while helping to prevent stormwater runoff.

Public art in the space includes a mural by Kelly Staton in the children’s area and an exterior sculpture by John Fleming.

The patterns on the interior face of the Fleming sculpture’s blades were painted by community members.

Abstract maps hang along the community room: one of the region, one of the world.

The 10,000 square-foot building, said Perkins and Will, was designed to serve an incredibly diverse community—they note that nearby Foster High School is among the most diverse in the U.S., with more than 80 languages spoken at home.

The new building is nearly double the size of the old Foster Library, which was built in 1996.