Core Design Team
Firm: EHDD Architecture
General Contractor: Synergy Construction, Inc.
Structural Engineer: Quantum Consulting Engineers
Developer: City of Kirkland, Parks & Community Services
Mechanical/Plumbing Engineer: Rainbow Mechanical
Electrical Engineer: Coffman Engineers, Inc.
Landscape Architect: MIG Civil Engineering: MIG
Environmental Permitting and Wetland Biology: Shannon & Wilson
Juanita Beach Park is the busiest waterfront park in the Kirkland Parks and Community Services park system. It lies along the east shore of Lake Washington in a small bay called Juanita Bay and north of Juanita Bay Park, a large publicly accessible wetland habitat along the lake shore. The existing Juanita Beach Park is beloved by Kirkland and surrounding communities for its views, large active lawn areas, playful beaches, and protected swim area.
This beautiful park’s previous bathhouse was constructed in 1960, and was parallel to the water’s edge and located in the middle of the park, blocking views to the lake. The building was at the end of its useful life, too big, outdated, and an eyesore. A recently completed park master plan proposed to demolish the existing bathhouse and locate it out of the center of the park, moving it west on the site, in a north-south orientation opening up the park and views to the lake. Once the city adopted the master plan, they implemented and completed the first phase to include a shoreline promenade, landform amphitheater, and interpretive wetland, all done a few years prior to the bathhouse project.
With the design team chosen to lead the City’s efforts for a new bathhouse building, pavilions, playground and lawn restoration, the team launched into a site analysis that quickly confirmed the outcome of the master plan. The proposed location of the bathhouse lay in the overlap between the passive side of the park, consisting of the meandering, salmon bearing Juanita Creek, forest and trails, and the active side of the park, beach volleyball, sandy beaches, watercraft usage, large lawn and outdoor amphitheater. The location suggested that the building not have a back and be welcoming from all sides.
The team looked to the site’s history to inspire and inform the building and pavilions. The area has a history of logging operations, former shingle mill and lastly a resort that occupied the lake edge site. With this inspiration, two schemes were developed using the city’s building program for the city to review with the chosen scheme being referred to as the ‘Logging Camp Scheme’. The City chose this scheme as it allowed more of a visual connection to the Juanita Creek forested area, the passive side of the park, and was better scaled to the active side of the park and users.
Initial challenges that arose during the design process where that construction needed to be completed during the wet winter months and occupiable one month after Memorial Day for the busy summer. Another challenge the project faced was newly discovered encroaching wetlands on and adjacent to, the proposed project site while updating the expiring Wetland Delineation Report as was requested by the city. Over the next couple of years, the design team worked closely with Kirkland planning and Washington Ecology to meet the intent of Shoreline Master Program and development, studying various locations of structures within bounds of the master plan and outside the critical areas and buffers.
Client communication and the client-team working relationship was strong throughout the project. The City came to the team with a program of spaces and the heads of the departments that utilized them. The design team had great access and communication with the various inter-park stakeholders and with the Parks Board.
After completion of schematic design, the City changed project managers and it only enhanced the chemistry of the team. As is the case with a lot of publicly funded projects, having clearly communicated goals is important. The parks department was clear that they didn’t have a lot of experience with buildings and wanted this to be a smooth process. The team was challenged to provide a building whose design gives back to the community, provide a structure that doesn’t turn its back on the park, the structures should be low maintenance and that the completed project is a series of buildings that showcases the values of the community.
The design of the bathhouse building expresses the public spaces with gable roof forms and cedar siding and back of house spaces with conventional framing and stained cedar siding. Except for the all-season restrooms, the buildings are designed to be unheated and to have natural ventilation with the wood screen, feathers, at the gable ends. For exterior materials, we used untreated clear vertical grain cedar siding at the restrooms and lifeguard building to further strengthen the public component. This is a more traditional use of wood but we wanted the detailing to be precise and take advantage of the materials malleability. The material will be allowed to weather to blend into the landscape and be low maintenance. The steel canopies provide durable low maintenance cover, shade and signage.
Our team wanted the public to experience mass timber for its strength and durability by showcasing it as a finish material in the public spaces both at the bathhouse and the pavilions. We worked closely with the structural engineer to clear span the picnic pavilions with CLT and create a sense of place that puts structural wood on the forefront of creating a finished, warm, inviting, gathering environment for the community. We specified CLT for a several reasons. The first was the sites historical relationship to the wood products industry and CLT is the next evolution of wood products. The second reason was environmental, to address the city’s commitment to sustainability and to show how public buildings can be sustainable and beautiful. And lastly, we’ve learned that to reduce projects costs, we can’t take away from a building’s durability, but we can influence construction duration. The bathhouse and pavilion CLT roof structures were constructed in a fraction of the time of conventional framing or hybrid framing saving the client time and money.
The bathhouse building and lifeguard station interiors are composed of glazed faced CMU walls and CLT gable roofs. The supporting spaces for maintenance and park programs are conventionally framed with low slope roofs to help keep the costs down. The picnic pavilions were designed to be as transparent and simple as possible to preserve views through the park to the lake. The gable CLT roof structure sits on top of structural concrete portals framing views out to Lake Washington. The proximity of the pavilions is designed to have them be rented individually for small groups or together for a larger group.
“The architect is an absolute pleasure to work with, friendly and responsive. The Design developed by the architect, in collaboration with the City of Kirkland, is a beautiful transformation of our busiest waterfront park, Juanita Beach. The architect’s design is a thoughtful acknowledgment of the history of this beloved regional destination. In addition to stunning and attractive buildings, the care and attention that the architect gave to the site layout have elevated the park; the site layout fees right, it is both functional and esthetically pleasing, framing and enhancing lake views.”
A.D., Project Engineer, City of Kirkland