The city of Bellingham, located 90 miles from Seattle, Washington recently welcomed a wonderful new addition to their downtown arts and cultural district. Built to LEED Silver standards, the Lightcatcher at the Whatcom Museum is a stunning modern construction designed by Olson Kundig Architects that features a green roof above the lobby, a rainwater harvesting system, pervious paving, double-skin curtain wall glazing, and natural ventilation in its public gathering spaces. Eco-friendly, attractive, and far from a pit for esoteric art, all of the endeavors held within create an inspiring haven for everyone from curious young kids to the most discerning of critics.
Showcasing a concept similar to the iconic Pompidou Center in Paris, the 42,000 sq ft addition features its systems on the outside. The aesthetic, however, is strikingly different, eschewing the colorful utilitarian contrast for a more sleek, subdued and light-infused structure.
At the heart of the new addition is the 36-foot-tall, 180-foot-long translucent Lightcatcher, a wall that not only bridges the interior and exterior and creates a spacious public courtyard, but above all forms an incredible eco-friendly light fixture that provides the interior spaces with an abundance of luminous natural light and ventilation. The completed museum utilizes locally available materials and is an excellent example of institutional design that is able to effectively minimize its eco-impact while maximizing the existing natural conditions of its site.
Housing exhibitions of art, Northwest history, and nature’s treasures, the Lightcatcher is the perfect spot to enjoy a splendid afternoon strolling within or an evening out on the green roof with family and friends!