Fort Worden Port Townsend, Washington | 2021

Fort Worden Port Townsend, Washington | 2021

Fort Worden Port Townsend, Washington | 2021

Architects: Signal Architecture + Research
Lead Architect: Mark Johnson
Landscape Architects: MIG/SvR, Elm Environments
General Contractor: Clark Construction
Client: Fort Worden Public Development Authority
Photographers: Arthur Ross

Fort Worden Port Townsend, Washington | 2021
Fort Worden Port Townsend, Washington | 2021
Fort Worden Port Townsend, Washington | 2021

Project Description

Located within Fort Worden, a decommissioned U.S. Army Corps base north of Seattle, the project is the first phase of a larger revitalization effort to transform the 90-acre Fort into a Lifelong Learning Campus.

Constructed from 1898 to 1920, Fort Worden was an armed overlook protecting the Puget Sound from invasion during both World Wars, becoming a State Park in 1971. Today, the Fort is a popular tourist destination.

This project transforms one of the historic buildings—Building 305—into a defined Maker’s Center with a public-facing gallery, classrooms, and working studio space. The project is envisioned as a catalyst for the power of arts and culture to stoke community involvement at the Fort, bringing these former military buildings into the future.

Crafting History. Intensive community outreach defined the project, with local arts agencies calling for flexible creative space accessible to diverse audiences. To answer this call, the team drew on Building 305’s history as a center for craft—for decades, it served as the Quartermaster’s Warehouse where raw materials were transformed into construction components for the Fort.

New programming is reverent to the original structure, with a large, flexible art gallery and maker’s studio anchoring the building. The team achieves this by removing overhead attic flooring to make space for largescale artworks, inserting tall relites to gather daylight and reveal the gabled timber structure, using original hardware and 20th-century float glass to retain historic character, and adding new shiplap wall-coverings and large pivot-door openings to defer to history in materiality and form.

Preservation Through People. Building 305 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, so an investigative and research-based approach drove the re-design process. Carefully mapping the building’s layers of patina and wear allowed the team to design rigorously austere contemporary interventions.

The preservation approach focuses on people, reprogramming the building for a new cultural use. The design celebrates the intangible character of the building, juxtaposing old and new for a historical palimpsest that serves as a dynamic setting for making and viewing art.

A Community Arts & Culture Model. New sustainable features improve the building’s resiliency, resulting in LEED Silver certification and making it future-ready for years to come.

Features include:

- Building has been seismically retrofitted.

- Historic roof ventilators rebuilt to historic proportions with active switch-controlled exhaust fans enable night flush cooling.

- Restoring existing operable, double-hung windows and installing new operable exterior-hung storm sashes.

- A geothermal-ready radiant heat mechanical system and solar-ready canopy.

As turn-of-the-century military bases like Fort Worden approach their 100-year anniversaries, communities nationwide are reckoning with the future of these spaces. Building 305 stands as a model for transforming this aging building stock into functional, accessible buildings, bringing them into the future as creative spaces that remind communities of the value of making art, not war.