Seattle’s Nordic Heritage Museum is getting a new home designed by Mithun

Architecture West
The Nordic Heritage Museum entrance lobby. (Courtesy Mithun/MIR)

The Nordic Heritage Museum entrance lobby. (Mithun/MIR/ Courtesy Nordic Museum)

Operating out of a 1907 red brick schoolhouse on a leafy residential street in the northwest Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, the Nordic Heritage Museum has plans to move into a major new Mithun-designed home about a mile south, close to the waterfront and the Ballard Locks.

(Courtesy Mithum)

An early rendering of the exterior. (Courtesy Mithun)

The design team for the new museum is headed by architecture firm Mithun. The architecture, landscape, and interior design team also includes Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa, and museum exhibition designers, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, from New York.

The project has been in development since 2003. The museum’s current lease with the Seattle School District will end in the spring of 2017. While the museum, founded in 1980, hopes to extend the lease, the Seattle School District is reclaiming the space as a new school to better serve growing young families in Ballard.

The museum bought property at 2655 NW Market Street in several phases. Currently on the site is the old Fenpro building, a warehouse that once produced glass for skyscrapers and currently serves as studio space for a variety of artists and businesses working in metal, glass, and other trades. These businesses are in the process of vacating, before the Fenpro building is demolished. This past December, local public radio station, KUOW, covered the controversy over the move.

(Courtesy Mithum)

(Courtesy Mithun)

Design is still underway for the over three-story, roughly 58,000-square-foot museum. There is a planned ground-floor café, and an expected major feature is Fjord Hall, a large central atrium that would connect permanent and special exhibits with upper story bridges evoking the notion of crossing a river.

The Nordic Heritage Museum declined to discuss architecture or interior updates or give Mithun permission to comment on the design, citing the timing was not right as the project is still under development.

The $44.6 million capital campaign is almost complete, with $5 million left to go, said Jan Woldseth Colbrese, Deputy Director of External Affairs at the museum. The Nordic museum expects to break ground this spring, with construction starting this summer, and an opening at the end of 2017 or early 2018.

Nordic Museum entrance lobby. (Courtesy Mithum)

A previous design of the lobby. (Courtesy Mithun)

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