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May 2, 2014

Suspended Ceiling (Washington) -- UW Odegaard Undergraduate Library

Photo by Lara Swimmer
A wood-grille suspended ceiling channels light from a massive skylight into the library.

Location: University of Washington, Seattle

Contractor: Performance Contracting

Architect: Miller Hull Partnership

Team: GTS Interior Supply; 9Wood; Armstrong World Industries

Odegaard Undergraduate Library, with more than 10,000 visitors daily, is one of the most popular buildings on campus. Since the original construction more than 40 years ago, only minimal renovations had been completed so the technology-based learning facility was due for a face-lift and updated infrastructure.

The focal point of this three-story building is the wood ceiling over the atrium. First, a large skylight was installed to flood the building with natural light. Then a 9Wood grille ceiling was installed as one plane over the entire ceiling space. It was vital to the project team that the wood-grille ceiling allow ample light to pass through and that it was visually appealing.

To make this project possible, the team had to remove and relocate the main staircase to the perimeter of the concourse area. Due to the enormous size of the skylight, relocating the seismic pods of the ceiling to outside the skylight area was a challenge.

Aligning all suspension tees with the mullions above to create a simplistic appearance was anything but simple. Suspension “web covers” and stainless-steel wires give the ceiling grid a fluid and minimalistic appearance.

From non-negotiable dates for removing the atrium floor to installing the wood ceiling, this project demanded extraordinary attention to detail.

Judge’s comment: “The project team’s pre-planning definitely helped to create this ceiling masterpiece. The wood ceiling materials were installed to perfection, which assisted in the goal of creating a ceiling that had a fluid, minimalistic appearance and complemented the natural light entering the space from the enormous atrium skylight.”

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