Monday, June 6, 2011

Wham BAM! The Bainbridge Art Museum Takes Shape

Inside Bainbridge
by Sarah Lane on June 5, 2011.

At the corner of 305 and Winslow Way, right next to KiDiMu, there is a large, brand new building and a large recently flattened area of dirt, subject of much Island speculation. Part of the building now houses Pretty Stick, the flagship store of a new nontoxic makeup company, and Avalara, a provider of web-hosted sales tax and use tax management services. Violet Restaurant (formerly Real Foods) will be opening in the facility soon. Another part of the building houses the start of the Bainbridge Art Museum, or BAM (as I have decided to call it). In the area of flattened dirt in front of it will soon rise the rest of the 20,000-square-foot museum.
Completed part of BAM
Completed portion of the BAM facility

Although BAM is quite a ways from being completed–the earliest anticipated opening is late 2012–it already paints an impressive picture, and the description of what it is to become is quite ambitious. The brainchild of Cynthia Sears, who has been contemplating such a creation for a decade or more, BAM aims to house a permanent collection of works by contemporary regional artists, feature a gallery for changing exhibits (up to 16 per year), work with local schools and the Bainbridge Island Park District to display art by young people, and partner with local organizations, including KiDiMu, to support their efforts by offering space resources such as classrooms and an auditorium.

Greg Robinson, the museum’s Executive Director, says that since achieving nonprofit status for BAM in 2009, the founders have been asking themselves, “What does it mean to be right here, on Bainbridge Island, where the environment is so important?” Members of the board hope to reflect that reality through many of the exhibits they offer. And they intend for the museum’s physical incarnation to reflect the Northwest environmental sensibility as well. To that end the building has been designed to meet the standards of LEED Silver, the U.S. Green Building Council’s third-highest level of recognition, which Robinson says is always an accomplishment for a museum. Museums have particular lighting needs and temperature and humidity concerns that make it particularly challenging to attain LEED energy-use standards.

Solar panels on the roof, a mechanized louver system to maintain a constant temperature inside, the use of sustainable building materials including denim insulation (provided through a grant from Levi Strauss) and FSC-certified woods, recycled-fiber carpeting, a bamboo ceiling, waterless urinals, a green roof, living walls, a permeable surface surrounding the building, and, most impressively, the incorporation of geothermal energy tapped via pipes embedded on site are all part of the building’s innovative design.

BAM classroom
Bainbridge Art Museum Classroom

The finished facility will include a reception area and main lobby space; four galleries; a special collections display; glass display cases for smaller, more delicate items such as books and jewelry; a cafĂ©; a museum store; art archives; and a rooftop garden named in honor of Island garden artists George Little and David Lewis. For now at this early stage, BAM consists of offices, classrooms, and a 95-seat auditorium. As part of its education-focused mission, BAM is inviting groups to use its existing spaces for lectures, classes, small concerts, and video screenings. Bill Baran-Mickle, one of BAM’s board members, is especially excited about the auditorium, as it will enable the museum to digitally document and present artists’ processes.

Island Gateway campus
The Island Gateway campus

The Island Gateway campus is set up as a condo association, with residents sharing responsibility for common areas. The BAM project’s architectural firm is Coates Design, project management is being handled by Asani, and the construction company is PHC. BAM will own the finished building. An additional retail/commercial building will be constructed in the southwest corner of the campus.

Architectural renderings courtesy of Island Gateway. Photos by Sarah Lane, 2011.

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