Seattle Public Library
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Architect Rem Koolhaas
Location Seattle, Washington, United States   map
Date 2004   timeline
Building Type public library
Climate temperate
Context urban
Style Eclectic Modern






Contributions appreciated

Discussion Seattle Public Library Commentary

"The library sits on a steep urban site with a 29-foot (8.8-meter) height difference between its boundaries on Fourth and Fifth Avenues. At the corner of Fifth and Madison, the wedge-shaped base of the library diminishes nearly to a point. A further dramatic change of scale occurs at the Fifth Avenue entrance to the building. The visitor enters a vast "Living Room," a large unprogrammed space that offers Seattleites an alternative to brand-name coffee shops as a place to relax, socialize, read, and connect wirelessly to the Internet.

"Straight ahead are the stacked and overlapping platforms that support the reading rooms and open areas equipped with computer work stations. Central to the building is a four-tier "Books Spiral" housing the nonfiction collection. This gently sloping pedestrian route, with stairs, ramps, and escalators, is sequenced according to the Dewey Decimal System. It has a capacity for 1.4 million books and other materials."

— Robert Such, ArchitectureWeek No. 236

The Creator's Words

"Although the library is sculptural, it is not in any way an attempt to make a form. The library's appearance comes from pushing boxes around to stay within the height and setback restrictions and zoning codes."

— Architect Joshua Ramus, partner at the Rem Koolhaas-led Office for Metropolitan Architecture, quoted in ArchitectureWeek No. 236

Sources on Seattle Public Library

"Seattle Public Library - Detailing the Skin", by Steve DelFraino, LMN Architects, with Christine Killory and René Davids, ArchitectureWeek No. 352, 2007.1003, pB1.1.

"Seattle Public Library", by Robert Such, ArchitectureWeek No. 236, 2005.0420, pD1.1.  Find books about Seattle Public Library


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