Birthroot Birth Center

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Designer: Luther Allen, UnCommon Sense Design
Custom Cabinets: Smith and Vallee Woodworks
Location: Broadway Neighborhood, Bellingham 
Photographer: Chris DiNottia


The Birthroot Midwives purchased the old MJB Jewelers building with the goal of creating a modern, healthy birth center.  The midwives worked hard to retain the character of the building during the historic restoration while updating it for safety, comfort and efficiency.


The building was only marginally worth saving. The Birthroot midwives opted to remodel instead of rebuild because they loved its historic character. This decision resulted in smaller overall carbon footprint and the design matches that of the historic neighborhood. Right off the bat the building had to be raised so we could rebuild both the foundation and flooring system. With a solid foundation in place we built an addition and remodeled the building.

Some materials from the existing building were salvageable, which added character and interesting finish details to the completed birth center.  These materials included: old framing material that Smith and Vallee Woodworks used to build custom cabinets,  refinishing the existing wood floors, and reusing exterior windows as interior relighting  windows.

Building Performance

The midwives chose materials with a focus on occupant health, which included: opting for low and zero VOC materials, hardwood and marmoleum flooring, Paperstone countertops and formaldehyde free insulation.

The building performance measures we used for the birth center included advanced air sealing and insulation details borrowed from Passive House systems, a SIGA building envelope system, a highly efficient commercial tankless water heater, a mini-split heat pump and a Heat Recovery Ventilation system.

“I have found Chuckanut Builders to be an energetic value-oriented contractor with the ability to adapt to a wide range of client needs. They work very hard to create a high-quality project with happy customers. I particularly appreciate their collaborative design and building process with expert, friendly and communicative subcontractors and suppliers. They are full of good ideas and are very invested with providing their clients the best possible product within the budget. I refer Chuckanut Builders to my design clients with great confidence.” – Luther Allen, Building Designer

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