Architects fine-tune Federal Way 320th Library design

Seattle’s SGR architecture firm provided this rendering of the remodeled Federal Way 320th Library at 848 S. 320th St. Construction is expected to begin in March and last about one year. - Courtesy image
Seattle’s SGR architecture firm provided this rendering of the remodeled Federal Way 320th Library at 848 S. 320th St. Construction is expected to begin in March and last about one year.
— image credit: Courtesy image

King County Library System (KCLS) administrative staff, plus two representatives of Seattle’s SGR architecture firm, updated Federal Way community members Tuesday on the progress of the new Federal Way 320th Library.

A voter-approved facility will replace the current structure at 848 S. 320th St. SGR’s Rick Zieve said the building is seven to eight months away from initial construction, which is expected to last one year.

“Somewhere around March of next year, things will start to happen on-site,” he said.

Zieve said the design that his firm came up with was informed by three main goals. The first was to make the new structure a community landmark. The second goal was to make the library a “great community gathering place.” The third goal was to make the building sustainable.

According to SGR’s Ingrid Krueger, a few highlights of the new building design included:

• A closer placement to 320th Street, so the building is more easily viewed from the road.

• An increase of parking spaces, from 61 to about 90.

• Re-landscaping of the site, which will include removal of much of the current vegetation already on-site. According to Krueger, there are 179 trees currently on site, and only 49 of those trees have been deemed healthy by SRG’s arborist.

• A design that creates more actual space for users (about 5,000 square feet), and also creates the impression of space. The new design will have a 22-foot tall ceiling on the east end, sloping down to 14 feet at the west end.

Two new design elements sparked concern from those in attendance. The first was the discontinuation of a drive-up book drop. Dri Ralph, facilities design coordinator for KCLS, said drive-up drops are staff intensive and require extra sorting. She said that reserved parking spots for the new walk-up drop are part of the plan.

The second design element met with some resistance was the lack of an enclosed children’s area in the new structure. Ralph explained the thinking behind keeping the children’s section open to the rest of the building.

“We will not be enclosing the children’s area totally. We’ve had a few safety issues that have come of that,” she said. “This is the lower part of the ceiling, so we will be focusing some of the acoustic treatments in that area so that we can make the children’s area feel like a children’s area and zone it away from some of the quieter areas.”

Temporary sites

One other important detail that came up during Tuesday’s discussion is where Federal Way 320th Library users will be able to go during the expected year-long construction.

“We did some research and delved into the stats. When the Federal Way (Regional) Library was closed, we had two temporary sites,” said Donna McMillen, cluster manager for Federal Way libraries.

McMillen said KCLS plans to have the Federal Way Regional Library, 34200 1st Ave. S., become the temporary space until construction is completed. She said the plan as of now is to increase hours at the regional library by one to three hours a day, which would amount to an increase of approximately 12 to 16 hours a week. Specific hours are still being determined, she said.

Audience member Diana Noble-Gulliford shared that the site of the 320th library is the original homestead of John Baker. Baker, an early settler in the area, established his homestead with a land patent granted by president Benjamin Harrison, she said. She asked if some kind of commemoration of this fact could be included in the design. All members of the design team seemed happy to take this into consideration.

Learn more

According to the KCLS staff, Tuesday’s meeting is the last public meeting regarding the design of the new building.

The construction is expected to cost about $5 million and will be funded through a bond measure approved by voters in 2004. The $172 million capital bond included an $8.1 million expansion and renovation of the Federal Way Regional Library, which reopened in June 2010 at 34500 1st Ave. S.

For more information on the new library, visit


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