Vashon Library

Vashon Island, Washington

1 / 12 – Photo credit: Benjamin Benschneider



The Vashon Island Library was originally constructed in 1983 upon a leased footprint within the Ober Park. The 6,196 SF brick box had little daylight and even less views into its idyllic setting, yet it was dear to the generations of residents who called Vashon Island their home. Despite studies showing the efficiency in cost and function to replace the library, the community rallied to keep the structure and expand it to 10,000 SF.

The challenge was to understand and protect the cherished memories associated with the outdated building while bringing in light and social spaces to enhance the library for future generations. The new space needed to do many things to properly extend the life and purpose of the existing structure: open the library thoughtfully to the park and add a welcoming aesthetic to a somewhat foreboding building, all while increasing the library’s visual presence from the street.

The new addition, all beneath a green roof, interlocks with the original structure. The heavy wooden trusses of the original building and main book collection are bathed in light from the new skylights almost magically making the space airy and open.

The Vashon Library maintains the best of the past but looks boldly forward to inspire future generations to want to preserve this community feature and its warm memories for their own children.

Project Data

Vashon Island, Washington
2010 - 2014
King County Library System
9,800 SF (6,400 SF Existing; 3,400 SF Addition)


Merit Award, Civic Architecture