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The Lightcatcher at the Whatcom Museum + enlarge

Photographer: Tim Bies

The Lightcatcher at the Whatcom Museum

  • PROJECT ROLES
  • Jim Olson, Design Principal
  • Alan Maskin, Principal
  • Stephen Yamada-Heidner, Project Manager
  • LOCATION & YEAR
  • Bellingham, WA, 2009

Project Details

The basic concept for this new $12.8 million museum is that of a museum turned inside out—to make the building as active on the outside as it will be on the inside. An iconic 36-foot-tall, 180-foot-long translucent wall, “the lightcatcher,” is conceived as the focal point and backdrop to a central courtyard that will become a new gathering place for the city. The exterior of the museum is an invitation to engage in art and allows pedestrians walking by to view the art and activity within.

The building is 42,000 square feet. It is the first LEED Silver museum in the state of Washington. Sustainable features include a green roof above the lobby, a rainwater harvesting system, pervious paving, double-skin curtain wall glazing at the lightcatcher wall, and natural ventilation in the public gathering spaces not housing art.

The Lightcatcher opened to the public on November 14, 2009.