Building The Art Museum

The Bainbridge Island Museum of Art was designed by Matthew Coates of Coates Design Architects. The 20,000 square foot building with space to host exhibitions and educational programs for audiences of all ages, interests and skill levels, focuses on local art and artists from the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas and the Puget Sound region. The art museum promotes cultural and economic vitality for Bainbridge Island and beyond. Phase 1 the construction of the 95-seat auditorium and two classrooms were completed in summer 2011. Phase 2 construction is complete and the art museum opened on June 14th, 2013. The art museum is targeted for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold status and sustainable features include geothermal energy, day lighting controlled louvers, solar power, recycled materials including denim insulation, and green-labeled certified carpets and paints. The art museum includes a reception area with a two-story atrium and grand staircase, seven formal galleries, two classrooms, 95-seat auditorium, a conference room/gallery, a community gallery, bistro, museum store, and a green roof garden and patio.

The south, water-facing side of the building has a skin that is comprised of 28’ tall curved glass, allowing pedestrians a transparent view into the museum. Through the use of lights mounted at the interior of the building’s glazing, the museum is illuminated at night, acting as a beacon that is visible from multiple vantages. Recognizing the need for a solution to the heat gain that would result from a building with a skin comprised of glass, Coates created curved wood louvers to wrap around the outside of the glass in order to block direct sunlight and provide ample shade for the artwork. The louvers are automatically controlled by a light sensor that triggers them to open and close in response to the sun’s movement. They function in three sections: as the sun comes around to the west, the first section will close. As the sun continues on its path, the light sensor monitors the quantity of sunlight and the louvers close when triggered.

On the second, uppermost level of the building, three long strip skylights allow natural light into the main gallery space. The risk of direct sunlight damaging any artwork is prevented through the installation of curved baffled light shelves that float underneath the skylights. Natural daylight flows into the space through these skylights, and is diffused as it bounces from the light shelves and disperses into the gallery to create a pleasant ambiance.

Community Involvement

The building’s striking curved form is a design element to be attributed in part to the local community. At the beginning of the process, Coates created twelve different models as potential designs for the site, a one-time salvage yard and parking lot. The models were presented at an open house where community members were invited to comment on the models and vote for their favorite designs. The most popular of the designs was the option that featured the sweeping curve. Coates took elements from that model and combined them with elements from other models and created a final, hybrid version. Architecturally, the large curving glass wall communicates a sense of motion and a gestural invitation to enter the building.

LEED designation

LEED Gold designation is a challenging goal, as museums are inherently energy-intensive due to such narrow tolerances in regard to humidity and temperature stability. In order to achieve this status, the following features were included in the museum’s design:

  • Tigerwood was used on the east side of the building for three box-like design elements incorporated for aesthetic relief. It was also used as siding material at the entry to evoke a sense of warmth. Tigerwood was selected for its striking color as well as its density and durability. It is harvested from South America and is FSC certified to ensure sustainable harvesting practices;
  • 14 on-site underground wells were bored over 300’ into the earth to extract heat that is cycled through a water-to-air heat exchanger;
  • Washington-made solar panels can be found in three different locations on the roof, generating enough electricity to supplement the building’s energy needs;
  • Denim was used as insulation for interior partition walls as well as infill on some of the exterior walls (with support from the Levi Strauss Co.);
  • Recycled materials were also used for the countertops;
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures and waterless urinals;
  • A 300 SF vegetated roof garden designed by celebrated gardening experts George & David Lewis.

ARCHITECT - Coates Design Architects
INTERIOR DESIGNCoates Design Architects with The Appel Group
MECHANICAL – PAE Consulting Engineers & Holmberg Mechanical Company
LIGHTING DESIGN – Luma Lighting Design
MUSEUM CONSULTANT – Ann Frank Farrington

For a self guided tour, pick up a copy of our Sustainable Features Tour at reception or click here to download.