Issaquah Library

Issaquah, Washington

1 / 8 – Photo credit: James Housel
“The library does not plagiarize historical details, but rather appears as a comfortable cousin to its historic neighbors. The Issaquah Library creates a fresh identity that is both timeless and welcoming.”



The Issaquah Public Library is a branch library that represents an expansion and modernization of library services for Issaquah, located in the heart of the historic downtown core. While future downtown planning called for multi-story urban structures, the library use dictated a single story. The cedar-sided structure resolves this apparent conflict by using an exaggerated building height with a trellis and canopies that maintain a humane scale at the street level. These scale elements relate to the cornice height of the neighboring buildings and visually secure the building in its context.

Patrons approach the entry from a new parking structure, passing screens of greenery, artwork and large multi-paned windows. This rhythm echoes the pattern of shop windows and offers protection through canopies and a large overhang. On the corner is a sheltered gathering space that marks the entrance to the building. Activity in the multi-purpose room, adjacent to the agora, is visible from the streetscape. Doors connect the outside and inside spaces to accommodate special events.

Entering from the agora, patrons pass through a wood-lined lobby parallel to the multi-purpose room, and under a pair of tilted columns into the main space. Additional round columns gently taper, accentuating their height, as they rise to meet the wood-lined ceiling. Light filters through clerestory windows to highlight a delicate metal truss at the building’s spine while bathing the space in natural light.

Project Data

Issaquah, Washington
1999 – 2001
King County Library System
15,000 sf


Design Award
Citation Award
Citation Award
Edwin F. Guth Memorial Award for Interior Lighting Design
Interior Lighting Design Award