Columbia River Maritime Museum Expansion

Astoria, Oregon

How do we enlarge and enhance a museum for more effective storytelling with a more visible, inviting entry?

Shingle-clad building with a roofline that resembles the shape of a wave. Through large glass display windows, the model of a coast guard rescue boat displayed as though it is riding and ocean storm can be seen. The purple sky turns to pink as the sun sets bekind the Astoria Bridge in the distance.

As a part of the master planning services for the Columbia River Maritime Museum expansion, FFA Architecture and Interiors added 9,000 square feet to the existing 37,000 square foot facility. The design met the museum’s two primary goals: increasing space for more effective storytelling and providing a more visible and inviting entry.

A new two-story entry lobby reaches out into the renovated forecourt plaza with dynamic curved roof forms, large display windows, and improved lighting. Designed specifically to showcase a US Coast Guard rescue vessel, a large glass display bay engages visitors and previews the museum’s collection.

In addition, the museum houses a new orientation theater, administrative offices, and workshop with consolidated spaces for museum staff and volunteers. The museum’s Maritime Library more than doubled its capacity and now includes a new research room.

Exhibit gallery improvements including an expansive new view window opening the museum to the river and special interpretive elements to teach visitors about the River, ship identification, and the area’s climate.

Year Completed:
9,000 sf addition
Project Contact:
Barbara Clement, AIA, NCARB
Associate Partner, Market Lead

Portland Chapter AIA, People’s Choice Award;

Northwest & Pacific Region AIA, Award of Honor

Conceptual Rendering
Expanded Lobby
Ship Displays
Curved Roof Forms