11
Jun
09

USA Trip-Seattle 1

EMP, Seattle

EMP, Seattle

Being a huge music fan and an architect I was eagerly anticipating my visit to Frank Ghery’s Experience Music Project in the Seattle. Early in art school I had been influenced by Ghery’s aerospace museum in Los Angeles while designing a museum project near Glasgow University and was blown away by  an amazing carved timber model for the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum which was on public display in Princes Square in Glasgow. I recall at the time wondering how on Earth they could ever build something like this and if they ever actually would!

I tend not to pay too much attention to architectural criticism of buildings and prefer to make up my own mind about them by visiting and experiencing them in the use they are designed for and this is precisely what I did.

There is no doubt that the external  form of the EMP has an immediate impact whether approaching on foot or by the monorail (built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair) that the building wraps around. Ghery’s ability to form shapes that defy gravity and create sensuous shapes has been proved elsewhere and is evident in parts of the facade of this building, however, to be blunt the building fails in some fundamental areas.

On eventually finding the main entrance to the building which is located in what I would describe as the ‘arse end’, there is a lack of natural light in the huge entrance area that you enter into which is provided with a shabby looking cafe which sells terrible pizza and not much else. The exhibits and music experience element of the building are good fun for all ages and I indulged in some of the hans on guitar, drums and even mixing exhibits, but the building itself adds nothing to this, they could have been housed in a warehouse with the same effect. It felt like the whole idea of form and function has been disregarded entirely.

I presume that the architectural rational for the building is linked to the music of Hendrix, Cobain etc. and, yes, I can see where this is expressed. For me though, this is far to literal and indulgent. To create architecture that parallels Hendrix and Cobain you can’t go for the worlds  ‘most sought after/desired/succesful’ architect. As much as I admire bold architecture, I think Paul Allen and Bill Gates could have invested in something, or someone, a bit more risky, a bit more like the local librarian did………….

Facade Detail

Facade Detail

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1 Response to “USA Trip-Seattle 1”


  1. June 14, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Wonderful facade detail.


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