The Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Washington is promoting and preserving a rich maritime heritage in an equally rich sustainable environment. The center was recently awarded LEED GOLD for its innovative design, which was carefully planned to protect and improve the waters of Puget Sound while providing a space to showcases the art and craft of wooden boats. From habitat restoration to energy use reduction, all aspects of sustainability were taken into consideration by both the client and the design team.

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Through “a community-based planning process more than 10 years in the making, we ensured the Northwest Maritime Center’s two buildings where compatible with the other historic structures in Port Townsend’s National Landmark Historic District,” said Craig Curtis, partner of Miller Hull and the lead designer of the project. “The two buildings, constructed of over 60% of FSC certified wood, occupy a prime location at the end of Water Street, at the transition between the old brick buildings of the late 18090’s and the adjacent Coast Guard clapboard buildings at the Point Hudson Marina, which were constructed in the 1930’s.”

In the development of the site, a former bulk oil terminal for more than 80 years, more than 2,400 tons of contaminated soil were removed and properly disposed of. In addition, 8,000 shoots of new eel grass were planted on site thanks to students and other volunteers who assisted divers and scientists in this restorative process. Eel grass is vital to the local shoreline’s ecosystem as it provides nursery grounds for many fish and shellfish species.

The building itself utilizes a number of energy reduction strategies, including abundant access to natural daylight and ventilation achieved through operable clerestory windows that run the length of the buildings. 100 percent of the center’s power is derived from Puget Sound Energy’s green power program, and the building is completely wired for solar panels, which will be installed once additional funding is raised.

+ Miller Hull Partnership

+ Northwest Maritime Center

All Photos © Nic Lehoux