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VOA Food Warehouse / Food Bank – Everett, Washington

Volunteers of America: Snohomish County Food Distribution Warehouse & Everett Food Bank, Everett, Washington

VOA_Food_SW_trimmedView from Southwest
VOA SignEntry accent and signage
VOA Food Bank SE viewView from Southeast


As a principal at Dykeman Architects in Everett, Washington, Joel Niemi led that firm’s work for the local Volunteers of America chapter.  Seven projects over about a dozen years included a new office / store building, upgrades, additions to and repurposing of original buildings, grant-funded improvements to summer camp facilities, and the Snohomish County Food Distribution Center / Everett Food Bank building.

Gil Saparto, then-CEO of the VOA, called on the telephone one morning.  “I saw a for-sale sign on a lot at the northwest corner of 13th and Broadway.  Would it work for a new food bank building?  I need to know this afternoon!”

The answer, delivered to Gil before a board meeting, was “Yes”.  We’d been talking about possible improvements to the building they were working from at the time, so general parameters of sizes and the operation were known.  Quick zoning code research, and some sketches, supported the recommendation. 

The finished design worked out even better.  High-bay storage in the warehouse consolidated storage, local charitable giving paid for a high-rack freezer and cooler, and the sorting area supports 20 food banks.  A local food bank, classroom and offices fill out the building; delivery truck loading, parking and landscaping fill out the rest of the just-big-enough site.  Fifteen years later, the building is going strong.

The thorofare along the east side of the building, Broadway, was considered a “gateway” route by the City of Everett.  This meant that the exterior design had to pass muster by the Planning Department.  The economical solution:  use concrete masonry of varying colors, textures, and sizes to establish an attractive pattern on the walls, and highlight the building entry for visibility from Broadway, 13th, and the parking area.  (Other new structures along Broadway have followed similar themes – imitation, the most sincere form of flattery!)

The general contractor for the project gave their heart to the project and took pains to do their best.  The on-site superintendent inspired his crew and the subcontractors, and was very effective in patiently and politely working with neighbors when concrete trucks were in their alley. 

It’s hard to top the rewarding feeling from applying professional skills to help others have food.

VOA South drawingCADD drawing screenshot
VOA Food Bank SW  blooms viewLandscaping to match neighborhood
VOA Food aerialAerial view of compact site
VOA Food Bank NE cornerNortheast corner signage
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