Bainbridge architect and contractor complete American Marine project

Bainbridge Island based Kirkpatrick Architects and Toilsome Construction have finished work on a new corporate headquarters and main branch for Bainbridge’s American Marine Bank.

The new structure took almost two years to complete and posed a number of challenges for the project team. The main goal was to design a building that would not overwhelm the small town character of Winslow Way, and at the same time provide enough space to bring the bank’s administrative and operational departments under one roof.

“We had to interview all the different department heads to make sure that we were locating their people close to the departments they needed to work the most closely with,” principal architect Dennis Kirkpatrick explains. “This in addition to the normal pre-design process on the building and site, which included making sure the impact of our design and construction on the adjacent buildings was minimal.”

“The bank’s real goal was to create a space that could serve as a community living room,” he adds. “The old bank had an area where the long time island residents would sit and talk with Eddie Rollins, the bank’s Customer Service Officer. That’s why there’s a living room with comfortable chairs, coffee and a fireplace off to one side of the main entry.”

Equally important to the bank and Kirkpatrick was coming up with a design that would allow clients who had grown used to entering the bank from the rear parking lot to continue to do so. “We wanted to minimize the changes in how people came into the bank,” Kirkpatrick continues. “We also wanted to provide a connection between Winslow Way and the waterfront. That meant we had to keep an open space along one side of the building.”

That open space turned into a new public park when Kirkpatrick and the bank approached American Marine’s rival and neighbor Washington Mutual about joining unused parcels to create a common passageway and green space between the two buildings. “What we created by working together is the only landscaped link between Winslow Way and the waterfront neighborhood and parks” he added.

Once the design was done and approved by the bank and the city, local contractors were given the chance to interview and bid on the project. General contractor Bruce Woolever of Toilsome Construction, and partner Brig Morgan were chosen to make the design dreams into reality. The construction phase would pose its own challenges to the hometown team.

“The bank had to remain open the whole time construction was going on,” explained Woolever, a second-generation builder. “We also had to protect bank employees who were working in the middle of the construction zone.”

The solution was to divide the construction site into two distinct halves. While the Winslow Way front end with the new teller lines was being built, the old teller lines in the back remained open. Once construction was finished on Winslow Way, that area opened for business and the older part in the back was shut down and building begun.

The only big problem to surface during the project’s two-year time span was when the bank had to extend the sidewalk further into Winslow Way. This cut down on the overall width of Bainbridge Island’s main business artery and resulted in angry merchants and shoppers. The incursion was not Kirkpatrick’s or American Marine’s choice. It was the result of changes to the downtown planning requirements that called for wider sidewalks. It had to do with measuring a certain distance from the lot line to the street. In this case it made the sidewalk bulge out into the street, costing parking spaces and cutting down on the ease of traffic flow through town.

The solution came to Kirkpatrick and Landscape Architect, Mark Weisman as theyt looked at the design for the new park between American Marine and Washington Mutual. They realized that the park lot line was actually further back than the new bank building’s line. He called Bainbridge city planners and engineers and they decided together on a solution that would resolve the City’s requirements for a wider sidewalk while maintaining the existing curbline. “We not only stayed within the guidelines, we added a parking space to Winslow Way by the time it was all over,” Kirkpatrick states proudly.

“It was a win-win for everybody concerned when we can partner with the City in finding solutions.”.