Core Design Team

Firm: SHKS Architects
Design Principal: David Strauss, Ph.D., AIA, LEED AP
Managing Principal: Jonathan Hartung, AIA
Principal: Kevin Kane, AIA, LEED AP
Project Manager: Matt Inpanbutr, LEED AP
Interior Designer: Theresa Freeman
Design Associate: Hannah Allender
Design Associate: David Curran
Design Associate: Melissa Glenn
Design Associate: Marc Brown
Design Associate: Rebecca Wilcox
Design Associate: Tristin Pagenkopf


General Contractor: Faber Construction
Structural Engineer: Swenson Say Fáget
Electrical Engineer: Travis Fitzmaurice & Associates
Mechanical Engineer: The Greenbusch Group
Civil Engineer: 2020 Engineering
Lighting Design: Edward Bartholomew; David Butler
Specifications: Cite|Specific
Cost Consultant: Haley Consulting Group
Daylighting: Integrated Design Lab; Chris Meek, Rob Peña

Project Narrative

The new Ferndale Public Library is strangely familiar, a civic building reflecting the unpretentious agricultural buildings surrounding Ferndale’s lively downtown. The library is a simple shed with the capacity to adapt to future needs – a generous, light-filled barn for books and community gathering.


Main Street in Ferndale is a compact place with a patchwork of commercial buildings in a small town along the Nooksack River. Agriculture is central to Ferndale’s economy and its surrounding landscape of fields and barns. The library site was selected for its proximity to City Hall, creating the opportunity to shape Main Street with a public building and the opportunity to link with interpretive trails through Schell Marsh.

The library forms a threshold between the thoroughfare of Main Street and the vestigial native landscape. The tall front was intended as a strong civic gesture, separating Main Street from the library and reinforcing the threshold from town to marsh. The building derives in large part from the simplicity and scale of local agricultural and industrial buildings: the rail bridge to the east, grain silos, and barns.

Preeminently a social place, the library gives place to daily activities – homework, story-time, reading the paper – and occasional ones – the poetry festival, book clubs, town meetings. The simple plan form allows a variety of uses with places and rooms for a range of activities. There is a gradient of repose that ends in the quiet, expansive reading area at the south. In section, the lower ceiling toward the south frames the view; the higher, public areas form a couple with Main Street to the north.

The Nooksack River floods on occasion. So, the library was placed on fill, spoils from re-grading, and sited away from the flood plain buffer. Siting the library to the north, out of the flood plain, raised the building well above the parking shared with city hall. The grade difference was resolved by creating the public plaza and gentle ramp from the southeast.
For reasons of resource conservation, economy and construction simplicity, a compact plan form was essential. A series of saw-tooth roof monitors introduce daylight to the center of the wide volume. The roof monitors also mark a series of sub-rooms within the large library volume.

The library building was constructed for $3,600,000, $240 per square foot. Designing within the budget involved a rigorous commitment to simplicity. The simple form organizes the site while providing an adaptable, welcoming interior. Daylight and views from roof monitors, skylights and windows balance with a highly insulated enclosure to conserve energy.

The library meets Ferndale’s Eagle certification, a sustainability requirement equivalent to LEED Silver. Heat is provided through a radiant floor system and natural ventilation and light occur through operable window and monitor openings. Storm water is collected and dispersed on site. Locally harvested cedar siding was treated with a wood preservative to weather naturally with minimal maintenance. Anticipating material loss due to weathering, the siding is thick enough to last 100 years before replacement.