|Olson Kundig Architects - Lightcatcher at Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, WA|
|Monday, 15 November 2010 07:56|
The Lightcatcher Building will be newest addition to the Whatcom Museum. It is located in the downtown area of Bellingham, WA, within a newly created, Arts and Cultural District, which includes restored adjacent landmarks.
The Museum’s mission is to provide informative, innovative and interactive educational programs and exhibitions about art and Northwest history and the influences that affected their evolution. It seeks to stimulate inquiry about our changing cultural, natural and historical landscapes, for the youngest to the oldest minds, and to inspire preservation of and creative contributions to our region. The Museum’s collection holds more than 200,000 artifacts and art pieces of regional importance, including a vast photographic archive.
All Photographs by Tim Bies/Olson Kundig Architects
The new building is called upon to serve multiple functions. It will display world-class art within multiple exhibit spaces and galleries, and host exhibitions from other museums, including the Smithsonian Institute. It should create a cultural and social center for the city of Bellingham, with a space for a children’s museum and art museum, a resource reading space which will also allow for story time. Throughtout the day, ARTCARTS will be rolled out for spontaneous activities for youth.
The 5,000 sf courtyard of the building aims to be a new major public space for the city, and a 37’ tall, 180’ long translucent wall, “the lightcatcher,” is the focal point to the space. Family friendly interactive gallery will connect people of all ages, including toddlers, with art related activities that also have a connection to our environment. It will feature activities that invite children to create, role play, and interact with experiential activities.
The courtyard garden, designed by landscape architect Charles Anderson, is called the "Garden of the Ancients" and continues the regional theme of the building. It integrates a huge rock that recalls the geology of the region and the rock outcroppings around Bellingham, a Gingko tree that partners with a Sequoia tree across the street. Both species of tree were here when dinosaurs roamed the Northwest. Native ferns are ancient Northwest plants. A bench of petrified wood is from a prehistoric Gingko tree.
The building is registered and designed to LEED Silver level. It should be the first LEED Silver museum in Washington State.
The huge curving Lightcatcher wall encloses an exterior courtyard while it creates dynamic drama for the indoor circulation spaces. The curved wall is shaped to capture sunlight and reflect it into the outdoor courtyard. Sunshine and daylight pass through this wall giving interior spaces a warm luminosity.
At night, light from within glows through the glass and creates a soft lantern-like effect. It is a beacon of light for the community. At night, the curbed wall becomes a glowing lantern that changes color, a canvas for projected art images, doubling up occasionally as s screen for outdoor movies or a backdrop for shadow puppet theater.
Architect Jim Olson talks about the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher Building
The design competition:
This project began as an international design competition. The museum and civic leaders wanted a new icon for Bellingham – a building that could take its place alongside city landmarks like Mount Baker Theater and Old City Hall. Both of those historic buildings are tall "towers." We thought that the museum could be focused around an open gathering space, in contrast to the two towers. We wanted this space to be filled with light, since sunlight is precious in the Northwest. Our design concept was a gathering space cradled by a wall that gathers light – the Lightcatcher. The jury liked our idea and we won the competition!
A welcoming, friendly place:
Many museums are off-putting and cold, unfriendly on the outside with stark white walls inside. People often feel inhibited by this cold approach and miss the joy of art because of it.
I've always wanted to create a museum where a variety of art pieces can be experienced from the street or sidewalk. The Lightcatcher Building lets us peek into its inner world through gates and windows. It even has niches where art can be displayed right at the sidewalk.
As both a children's museum and an art museum, this building is for people of all ages. It is like a living room for the whole community.
Using natural materials:
The design uses natural materials that express the Northwest region.
• The Lightcatcher wall celebrates the Northwest glass movement, glows like a yellowish agate from a nearby beach, softens light like our clouds, and creates a sense of mystery like our mist and fog. It is also a glowing beacon at night.
• Colors of the exterior and galleries are soft tan/gray like the bark of our trees and the rocks on our beaches.
• Ceilings are like weathered driftwood.
• Silver metal details reflect the Northwest's "oyster light."
The Lightcatcher Wall
The building is named for the Lightcatcher – a huge curving wall that encloses an exterior courtyard while it creates dynamic drama for the indoor circulation spaces. The curve captures precious sunlight and reflects it into the courtyard; it allows daylight through the wall, diffusing it to give the interior spaces a warm luminosity. At night, light from within glows through the glass and creates a soft lantern-like effect. It is a beacon of light for the community.
The Lightcatcher seems alive because light itself is elusive and ever-changing. The wall can be many things: a backdrop for sculpture; natural light fixture by day; a glowing lantern at night that changes color; a canvas for projected art images; a screen for outdoor movies; even a backdrop for shadow puppet theater.
The Lightcatcher breathes and creates natural ventilation for museum spaces.
The Lightcatcher catches light the way the sail on a sailboat catches wind. It is beautiful in its naturalness and it is alive with the ever-changing spirit of nature.
The Lightcatcher is about light. Light illuminates art; art illuminates us. The Lightcatcher is a symbol of enlightenment.
I love this project!
For me, personally, this museum has given me the opportunity to explore new ideas about art, light, ecology, and people. It has also been a golden opportunity to create a public space that will hopefully become an integral part of the Northwest community.
Lightcatcher Building at the Whatcom Museum – Sustainable Strategies
The Lightcatcher Building is the first LEED Silver museum in Washington State. Exhibits will educate visitors on green building strategies and technologies, using the museum as an example. The Lightcatcher – an iconic 36-foot-tall, 180-foot-long translucent wall – incorporates sustainable strategies:
• Daylight filters through it to naturally light portions of the building
• Outside air enters through openings in the Lightcatcher, naturally ventilating portions of the building;
• During warm weather, the stack effect pushes warm air up and out of the building through the double-skin of the Lightcatcher;
• In cooler weather, upper vents in the Lightcatcher can be closed, allowing the cavity between the glass surfaces to become an insulating layer;
Other sustainable strategies include:
• The service drive has pervious paving
• Stormwater is channeled into raingardens located in the courtyard and in the public sidewalk planting adjacent to the museum
• A green roof above the lobby reduces the heat island effect, provides greater insulation value, diverts storm water runoff, and provides a microhabitat for wildlife
• The rainwater harvesting system provides enough water for toilets approximately ten months of the year
• The building has low flow plumbing fixtures and waterless urinals, as well as rainwater-harvested water for the toilets
Energy and Atmosphere
• Heat reflective Energy Star roofing reduces heat gain inside the building and reduces the heat island effect in the surrounding area
• The Lightcatcher gallery and lobby spaces utilize radiant floor heating and cooling, as well as natural ventilation
• The HVAC system uses high efficiency boilers and chillers
Materials and Resources
• Over 75% of demolition and construction waste were diverted for recycling or reuse
• High recycled-content structural steel is used
• Concrete has high fly ash content
Indoor Environmental Quality
• All the wood used in the building is certified and sustainably harvested
• Office spaces have daylight and exterior views
• Low VOC paints, adhesives and sealants are used in interior spaces
Innovation and Design Process
• Life cycle cost analyses were performed on mechanical systems to determine relative payback scenarios for the sustainable technologies used in the building.
• “Green Power" will be purchased from the power company
• We performed computational fluid dynamic analysis at the Lightcatcher gallery to design the cooling, heating and ventilation systems and predict the performance of the Lightcatcher.
Plans - Sections - Elevations
|Last Updated on Thursday, 25 November 2010 11:27|