City of Forks
Bryon Monohon, Mayor
Audrey Grafstrom, City Treasurer
Core Design Team
Matt Rumbaugh, Principal in Charge
David Shaffer, Design Team
Boris Srdar, Design Principal
Steve Wescott, Design Team
Teresa Alvarado, Design Team
Brian Delaney, Design Team
Felicia Nitu, Design Team
Coughlin Porter Lundeen (Structural Engineer)
Travis Fitzmaurice Associates (Electrical Engineer)
Zenovic and Associates (Civil Engineer)
SSA Acoustics (Acoustical Engineer)
Metrix Engineers (Mechanical Engineer)
Hoch Construction (Contractor)
SPECIFIC CONTEXT, BROADER CHALLENGE
The Rainforest Arts Center is a relatively small project with a community impact that vastly exceeds its size. Located in a small town on the Olympic peninsula, the new facility was built to replace the beloved and historic Odd fellows Hall which burned down. The loss of this building was an emotional blow to the town, and the community came to the design process with strong and varied expectations and aspirations for the replacement building. City leadership emphasized the civic significance of the new building, but a part of the population was pushing for a very traditional architecture familiar to the residents of the Peninsula. Located right on SR 101, the original west coast highway, the project also had to engage the broader context of “roadside architecture”, which is generally relegated to non-civic uses such as economy motels, lodging, casual diners, and gas stations.
With an understanding of this dichotomy of aspirations, we searched for an architectural response that would give justice to these specific physical and psychological contexts. It became clear that the materiality of wood could bridge the divide. A sophisticated use of wood can evoke a contemporary moment and building’s significance, while remaining relevant to its specific rural context. The design evolved to portray a civic presence appropriate for the Community Arts Center, and to present a rustic quality connecting with the emotions and expectations of the wider community.
OF THE COMMUNITY, BY THE COMMUNITY, FOR THE COMMUNITY
The limited budget set by the insurance allowance pushed the design team and the community to seek creative solutions throughout the design and construction process. These solutions, gifted and volunteered, resulted in the inclusion of significant design contributions that provide this civic building with a strong connection to Forks’ culture and long tradition of logging.
Local high school students installed a Northwest-themed mural made from square log ends in the lobby with guidance from the design team. University of Washington architecture students worked closely with the designers and built the acoustical wall panels as part of their fabrication studio work. A local mill donated a large log for the curved wood beam window seat. Donated logging poles form door handles and evoke the tradition that was a pride of the community for a long time.
The community has embraced their new facility, and it has already served a wide variety of uses, including Chamber of Commerce meetings, weddings, art fairs, WA State Supreme Court sessions, dances for all ages, and many more.