Fairchild Air Force Base Education Center and Library

An award winning project.

This award-winning project is a design-build collaboration that reunites the successful design and construction teams used on the FAFB Child Development Center in 1994. The program goals were to create a focal point for the Base, a pleasant learning environment, and a library that is affordable, energy-efficient, and easy to maintain.

It was felt that the Education Center and the Library should have their own identities while being part of the same building envelope. The facility is divided into two “stand-alone” pieces with a common element, the entry rotunda, and collective facilities (the lounge, telephones, and toilets), separating them. The two wings are relatively solid with the primary surface element being brick. The scale and mass of the Education Wing are made more “human” by breaking this long element into smaller pieces through the use of setbacks. The Lobby element is almost entirely glass. This material choice allows the two wings/functions to be visually separated while physically connected. All elements are tied together by the roof element. The roof has wide overhangs and unifies the building the same way that an umbrella creates a unity of several people standing under it. It is visually separated from the building mass by a void created by a continuous ribbon of glass. The scale of the building is lowered, and the energy efficiency is increased using the earthen berms.

The entries are defined using two elements that are unique to them; tube steel metal trelliswork and a horizontal translucent covering designed into the trelliswork. Additionally, the berms are opened with splayed retaining walls used as collectors to invite one into the entries. That is, they start wide away from the building and narrow down to the doors like the way a funnel works.

Using similar materials, colors, and detailing of the surrounding facilities, the Education Center/Library is made to feel like a part of the family while maintaining its own unique identity.


  • 2001 AMC Facility Design Award
  • 2002 Air Force Facility Design Award


  • Client: US Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District
  • Location: Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington
  • Size: 26,000 square feet
  • Completed: 2000

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