usa trip – Seattle 2

Seattle Public Library, Streetview

Seattle Public Library is a real stand out building among Seattle’s financial district tower-blocks. It’s cantilevering projections and distinctive grid structure contribute to it’s strong and imposing street prescence. I took advantage of the free architectural tour provided by the library which takes about an hour and it was interesting to hear how successful and well used the library is(Thanks to Don).

It is said that Joshua Ramus, a former Seattleite, working for Dutch Architect Rem Koolhaas was contacted by his mother who noticed the advertisement for the competition to design Seattle’s new Public Library, which they entered and subsequently having sold their concept to the board, won against stiff competition from New York architect Steven Holl and another firm that I haven’t been able to get the name of. OMA then teamed up with local architects LMN to facilitate delivery of the project. There is a wealth of information on the building on the library web-site at http://www.spl.org/default.asp?pageID=branch_central_building&branchID=1.

Seattle Public Library, 3rd Floor Entrance

The huge amount of glazing makes the natural light and the views out of the building quite breathtaking. The sequence of spaces that you move through while travelling through the building is reflect the varying uses with the meeting rooms at the centre of the building coloured a deep red colour, they are almost like the inner heart of the building and each of the escalators a distinctive yellow green signalling the vertical circulation.

The system of storing the books in the library in a giant spirl allows the collection to expand without disruption to the Dewey Decimal based system and formed a major part in the development of the form of the internal layout of the building.

view out from the top floor

Not being the usual type of building that tourists would visit being a library, I would recommend taking a look inside to anyone visiting Seattle. It is a public building and is free to everyone to go in and walk around. There is a shop selling card board cut out models of the building and many other interesting bits and pieces as well as a coffee shop which there is no shortage of in Seattle.

On leaving the lobby of my hotel one morning, someone asked the doorman if there was a Starbucks nearby, the doorman and I started laughing while the guy looked at us strangely, he wasn’t joking! Like anywhere in central Seattle you can’t walk 100yards without seeing a Starbucks!


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