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From Zero to a Library in 8 Easy Months

Pierce County Library System
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Innovation Summary

By adopting modular building construction techniques, Pierce County Library was able to reduce the time to build a new community library from the typical 28 months to just 8 months (AND as a bonus, reduced environmental impacts from the building process).

Problem Statement

PCLS needed to prepare a site for the Fife Pierce County Library, construct the building and open in less than 9 months in order to meet requirements for providing the newly annexed city with its first ever library service. The Library’s focus was on locating the new facility where it was easily accessible to residents and would be most effective in helping the City create a walkable, engaging community center and attract businesses. The city has many site location restrictions: it is divided by a major inter-state highway and the majority of city land is located in a flood plain. Because of difficulties obtaining land in the right location, the Library’s building timeline became compressed. Land was purchased on March 16, 2011. By agreement the latest date to open would be December 12, 2011. The typical process, without any problems, takes 28 months. Problems did occur, ranging from weather delays to finding bones on the property (formerly Tribal land) requiring assistance from Tribal experts and State archaeologists.


PCLS determined that the modular building technique could allow us to meet the compressed timeline, as well as provide for our desired environmentally friends/green practices. Site preparation work and the construction of the Library could happen simultaneously, rather than in succession. At the same time, the 6600 square foot library was built in an off-site factory, in 9 modular sections. (This also allowed for controlled conditions, including containment of gases, reduced waste in construction materials, and no environmental impact on site location.) The community saw a Library building in place in just 10 days, as the 9 modules were delivered, offloaded and assembled on the prepared site.


Building process:

3/16/2011 – Purchase of land for Fife Pierce County Library
4/6/2011 – Kickoff meeting with staff, Modular Building Systems, SHKS Architects
7/8/2011 – Ground breaking, site preparation begins
10/3/2011 -- First two modular units delivered
Tuesday, 10/4 -- One modular section installed
Wednesday, 10/5 -- Two modular sections installed
Thursday, 10/6 -- Two modular sections installed
Friday, 10/7 -- Two modular sections installed
Monday, 10/10 – Final modular unit and HVAC section installed
10/14/2011 – Building core and shell racked and complete
10/15/2011 – Interior work begins
12/3/2011 – Grand Opening Fife Pierce County Library

First day statistics:

  • 780 visitors (goal was 500)
  • 1,566 items checked out
  • 143 new library cards issued