I recently made a trip to Seattle. One of the places that I had wanted to visit was the Seattle Central Library run by the Seattle Public Library System. I have been told my people that this place was worth a visit but I didn't expect it to blow my mind like it did.
The library was opened to the public in 2004 and features floors (or platforms) that are offset from eachother. These platforms were then "wrapped" with a glass exterior shell. The building is striking but not necessarily pretty; the proportions just seem arbitrary to me.
The interior of the library is absolutely breathtaking though. This is the most exciting, exhilarating, and emotional library I had been in. No, it's the most stunning building I have been in period.
Some people have criticized this building for being too cold and lonely. I think it's helplessly beautiful in a cool, modernist way.
First floor has letterpress-like flooring.
The giftshop is on tracks so it sandwiches together when closing to hide the merchandise.
Navigating the library can get a bit overwhelming at first. The communicative signs in Futura (I think) help.
The interior is airy and warm thanks to the completely glass exterior structure. It helps blend the sidewalk with the interior of the building.
It's really amazing how brave this building is. I don't think I've ever seen a public structure this expressive.
This is the 4th floor where the meeting rooms are located. Hallways are completely painted in this blood red.
You can't help but feel like you're in a sci-fi movie walking through these halls.
Even the more quiet spaces are rather playful.
Escalators are universally finished in a fluorescent lime color. The single-file design along with the backlit panels makes it an almost a psychedelic experience.
The library only has escalators that go up though. To get down, you have to take the stairs or the elevator.
The reading room is lit with plenty of light and dark furniture to help you focus.
Furnished with .03 chairs designed by Maarten Van Severen and what looks to be the Joyn tables by the Bouroullec brothers.
Modern and communicative.
The elevator plaque. Not a fan of the cut-out letters; they just get filled with grime.
The color palette of the library gorgeous regardless of where you are.
The "main" floor of the library is appropriately called the "living room". The library consistently uses non-traditional names that helps to make your stay exciting. The book collection is called the "spiral" and the computer workspace is called the "mixing chamber".
A concrete center block provides much of the structural rigidity.
More beautiful escalators.
I would work here everyday.
The bookshelves have these frosted ends that helps the shelves look organized without being too monolithic.
The Dewey Decimal numbers are labeled on the floor.
More examples of eye-catching labelling.
The padded ceiling of the highest floor that is open to the public.
From this floor, you can also watch people browsing and working.
I had a great time at the Central Library. The design of the building is controversial but inarguably brave and a fascinating space to be encompassed by. It's also an incredible feat when you consider that libraries are normally the most dull public spaces you come across. If you're ever in the area, a visit here is a must.