The fjord at the new Nordic Museum in Seattle's Ballard may not have ocean water flowing through it, but still serves as a symbolic architectural focal point for the $45-million, 57,000-sq-ft building.
The museum and cultural center on Market Street opens May 5 with a celebration, offering exhibition and educational space organized around the linear fjord meant to weave together Nordic stories and Nordic-American experiences. Bridges cross the figurative fjord, meant to bring verticality and movement to the space and conjure thoughts of migration.
“The museum is arranged around a two-story space, evoking the Nordic fjords, that connects the museum on the first floor and yet divides the Nordic and Nordic-American exhibits on the second floor with bridges that connect between them,” Richard Franko, lead designer for the Nordic Museum and partner and architect for Seattle-based Mithun, tells ENR. “It’s a unique architectural embodiment of the exhibit flow and concept.”
Designed by Franko and Mithun, Seattle’s Magnusson Klemencic Associates was also involved a project that targeted LEED Silver.
A vertically striated zinc skin wraps the exterior with a wave-like shape, while the fjord walls inside include faceted white planes meant to signify glacial origins. The museum also includes an auditorium and climate-controlled storage for the museum’s art collection. Its active social areas, such as café, store and classrooms, remain permeable to the street and pedestrians, a contrast to the walls of the exhibit areas.
When opened in 1980, the museum was located inside a 1907 structure leased from the Seattle School District. In 2009, the museum and its donors purchased the Market Street site and plans were approved for the new museum in 2012.
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