A New, Vibrant Neighborhood Landmark

Federal Way 320th Library

King County Library System

Providing free, open, and equal access to ideas and information to all members of the community is both the mission of the King County Library System and the underlying concept for the Federal Way 320th replacement library. The new building transitions deftly from commercial to residential, from suburban to urban, establishing a vibrant community library.


15,000 sf


Federal Way, WA

Year Complete


2015 Merit Award — AIA Washington Council Civic Design Awards

2014 Merit Award — AIA Seattle Honor Awards

The library departs from the role of building as object, and animates its community. It’s about the human experience and tuning the building to its users and context. 2014 AIA Seattle Honor Awards Jury

A Community Gathering Space

At 15,000 square feet, the Library is an unusual size for KCLS responding to a low/moderate-income community known for extremely heavy use with 50% more user space than its collection size demands. The structure is durable, easy to maintain and accommodates a broad range of community functions and gives children and teens a home-away-from-home. The open floor plan and flexible community meeting room offer this constituency a much-needed and heavily-used gathering place. Repurposed lumber from the original building wraps the meeting rooms with warm wood paneling and maintains a link to the community’s past.

An Attitude of Democratic Engagement

Right in the seam of commercial and residential development, the building’s street-side transparency asserts a public place. On the inside, the large, open reading room looking out to the community reinforces this attitude of democratic engagement. Next to a busy thoroughfare, the library’s transparent street-front displays diverse activities, while its entry opens to a big “back yard” with trees and landscaping where kids can arrive safely by bicycle or pile out of and into parked cars.

Durable and Affordable

The hybrid wood/steel structural solution brings great advantages in terms of long span spaces and affordability. The building is clad in a robust screen of perforated weathering steel, its organic quality and rusty colors creating a billboard along the street in a language that blends with the natural surroundings of Federal Way’s residential neighborhoods.