Two firms with local connections will collaborate
Friends of the Winthrop Public Library (FOWL), the nonprofit organization working to bring a new library to Winthrop, announced Tuesday (March 14) that it has selected Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline to coordinate designing the new building.
Both are Seattle-based architectural firms with extensive experience in the Methow Valley. Johnston Architects also has a long history of designing public libraries.
The new library will be built on a .81-acre parcel purchased by the town, on White Avenue near Little Star Montessori School. FOWL is spearheading the building project and private fundraising efforts for the new facility, and will turn it over to the town of Winthrop when completed. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide furnishings, staff and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance.
“We are incredibly excited to begin the exacting process of creating Winthrop’s future library with these accomplished and creative architects,” said Shannon Polson, chairperson of the FOWL board of directors, in a press release. “Both Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline have extensive experience working in the Methow Valley and deep respect for the community’s vision for this important public place.”
FOWL chose the architectural collaboration after a selection process that considered three candidate architectural teams over nearly six months, according to the press release.
Johnston Architects has created nearly 30 community libraries. The firm managed a program and design process that resulted in the creation of TwispWorks, and has also created numerous valley homes.
Ray Johnston, a principal of the firm, has already contributed to the new Winthrop public library effort. In December 2018, he helped the community assess its vision and goals by leading a workshop that collected information from participants about their ideas and hopes for their new library.
Balance Wickline — with offices in Seattle and Winthrop — has deep connections to the Methow Valley. Firm architects Tom Lenchek and Margo Peterson-Aspholm have both designed numerous residences here. Additionally, they were the architects of the new Little Star Montessori School, and they have contributed pro bono services to a number of Methow Valley community projects.
“It’s an honor to work with the Johnston team,” said Peterson-Aspholm. “We respect them personally and professionally, and we share a love of the valley, too. But most importantly, we share a fundamental belief in the power of architecture to foster community.”
The firms will next start to formalize the wants, needs and parameters of library stakeholders, including the community of library patrons, the Town of Winthrop, FOWL, and the North Central Regional Library, according to the press release. After that, master planning for the site and creating a schematic design of the building itself will begin. Both architectural firms will collaborate throughout the entire process.
“We’re thrilled to move full steam ahead,” Ray Johnston said about the partnership with Prentiss Balance Wickline. “Together, and with ongoing input and feedback from the community, we will help create a dynamic, functional and beautiful library space that we hope everyone in the valley will celebrate, use and cherish.”
Construction is expected to begin in spring 2020. Preliminary conceptual sketches show an 8,400-square-foot “footprint” for the building that addresses the major findings of the community needs assessment, Polson said.
Since early 2017, FOWL has been promoting construction of a new library to replace the overcrowded, outdated building on Highway 20.
The new Winthrop library is also included in the state’s recently approved biennial capital budget. The project is earmarked for $2 million in state funding when available.