The Burke Museum is the oldest public museum in Washington State with a collection of over 16 million artifacts and specimens, ranging from totem poles and gemstones to dinosaur fossils. Because the Burke’s collection is so wide-ranging and continues to grow – it is a collecting museum – the new building needed to serve as a coherent, effective container that would allow for flexibility over time. The building’s rational scheme holds the complexity of the Burke’s activities and collections, both now and into the future.
Another key design goal for the building was to create maximum transparency, making every part of the Burke exposed and part of the visitor experience. The design breaks down traditional museum barriers between public and “back-of-house” spaces, integrating collections and research labs with traditional galleries. Dual entrances help link the museum to its context, connecting to both the University of Washington campus and the surrounding community. A 24-foot-by-20-foot pivoting window wall continues the emphasis on transparency to literally open the Burke to the nature of a new outdoor courtyard. At its core, the mission of the Burke is to help everyone – curators, visitors, educators and students – make a connection with our natural world in all its complexities. The project is LEED® Gold certified.
“I think of the Burke Museum as a natural history library and a repository of natural materials. Visitors have access to the items that interest them and to make connections to other areas of study housed within the museum. The new museum empowers visitors to follow the threads of their own curiosity.” –Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA, Design Principal
Project Team: Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA, Design Principal; Stephen Yamada-Heidner, AIA, LEED® AP, Principal and Project Manager; Edward Lalonde and Justin Helmbrecht, LEED® AP, Project Architects; Gavin Argo, Julia Khorsand and Olivier Landa, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C, Architectural Staff; Phil Turner, Gizmo Design
Consultants: Skanska, General Contractor; BergerABAM, Laboratories; GGN, Landscape Architect; Lerch Bates, Elevators; Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Civil and Structural Engineer; Niteo Lighting, Lighting Design; RDH, Building Envelope; Stantec, Electrical Engineer; WSP, Mechanical Engineer; Turner Exhibits, Gizmo Fabrication; Cite Specific, Specifications; Walter Crimm Associates, Museum Programmer; Karen Braitmayer, Accessibility Consultant; Evidence Design, Exhibit Design
Photography: Aaron Leitz