Gateway Center designers praised for different project

Bainbridge Island Museum of Art among Fodor’s list of best small-town museums

Coates Design Architects, the firm that conceived a style for the proposed Gateway Center in Aberdeen, received recent praise for its design of the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

Fodor’s Travel named the museum, which opened in June 2013, among its list of the “15 Best Small-Town Museums in the U.S.” It’s the second such honor for the museum that focuses on works by artists from western Puget Sound as well as the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas.

Other small-town museums that made Fodor’s list include the Huntington Museum in San Marino, CA., Princeton University Art Museum in Princeton N.J., and the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, Miss., which was designed by the renowned architect Frank Gehry.

“It’s an honor to be among them,” said Kathleen Scharrer of Coates, which is also located in Bainbridge Island. “I’m really happy with company we’re in.”

The 20,000-square-foot building allows passersby to see what’s being displayed inside the museum because one side of the structure is constructed of curved glass. When conditions outside become potentially damaging to the works of art inside, automatically controlled louvers control the amount of light coming through the glass.

The museum earned GOLD status from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design earlier this month after expanding its rooftop solar array. It now has enough capacity to put power back into the grid during the summer and is the only museum of its kind in Washington state to have this designation.

“It’s really exciting,” Scharrer said. “Museums require large amounts of energy.”

The museum and the style Coates developed for the Gateway Center both feature natural materials and an interest in sustainability — a common theme for Coates, Scharrer noted.

Another thing the two projects have in common is transformation. It’s what people on the ferry coming in from Seattle first notice. “The museum has been a real boon to our town” she said.

Scharrer said the people behind the Gateway Center, which would house the county’s tourism and enterprise organizations at the northeast corner of Wishkah and F streets in Aberdeen.

“You have such a beautiful location and such an opportunity,” she explained. “There’s so much that could be done.”

The City Council approved a design concept by Coates’ team resembling lumber drying stacks seen in old-time mills.

Coates created the style over months through a public survey and town hall meeting process. Mayor Erik Larson praised the firm for its work but the City Council will decide who designs the structure once funding is secured.

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