The Center for Wooden Boats

Finalist 2020

The Center for Wooden Boats has been a beloved gathering place on Seattle’s Lake Union since 1976. The maritime non-profit's new building, the stunning Wagner Education Center, raises their visibility and all the great work they do to nurture kids and the local boat-loving community. The new donor recognition and signage system takes its cue from the building's industrial, honest material palette. When visitors take a closer look at each steel donor panel, they discover the favorite sailing waters of each donor. The space embraces the unfinished steel and wood palette from the architecture and displays screen-printing nautical maps that were added onto raw steel panels. The interpretation was direct-printed onto wood panels and retains an honest and almost hand-made quality. Equipment, displays and tools for boat building occupy almost every wall surface in the building. A new campus map design pulls together the eclectic campus that sprawls across docks and the lakeshore. Staff, visitors and the all-important volunteer operation have loved the increased visibility of the Center for Wooden Boats, the interpretation for the boats and workshops within, and campus-wide activities.

Design Firms: 

Studio Matthews


The Center for Wooden Boats

Project Area: 

9600 sq ft

Open Date: 

March 2019

Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 

William Wright

Design Team: 

Kristine Matthews (principal design), Nicole Fischetti (project lead design), Garret Steider (design), William Wright (photography)

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