The new Library is a Shop Window for Information
The new Library is a Shop Window for Information by Laura Zimmer | 17.09.2012
Seattle Central LibraryIn times of Kindle, iPad and Co. classic libraries are becoming less and less popular. The Seattle Central Library by OMA architects could prove the opposite.
By building Seattle Central Library Rem Koolhaas hit the zeitgeist: “The new library is a kind of book depot, a shop window for new information, a dynamic room for ideas, discussions and reflections.” Located at a central place in Seattle, the new building, featuring Koolhaas’ typical deconstructivist building style, stands out from the cityscape. The façade seems unique, too: The grid-like construct, consisting of steel and glass and divided into diamond-like shapes, creates a multifaceted impression, towards the inside as well as the outside.
Browsing in the “Book Spiral“
The Seattle Central Library opening ceremony in May 2004 unveiled what was hidden behind the eye-catching façade: Innovative usage possibilities spread across six floors. This is what the architect had to say: “A library today should be comparable to a shop for exchanging information in the form of old and new media.” The so-called “Mixing Chamber” serves as a service point. The way to the “Living Room” is shown by a flashy yellow escalator, attracting the visitor’s eye as soon as he enters it. Here, visitors can follow the “Book Spiral” and the stock of books. Across a four-story ramp, books keep passing along the visitors. The way books are lent digitally and controlled by robots. A chip lists the stock of books, by the time of the opening ceremony 780,000 books were listed. Finally, the “Reading Room” on the upper-most floor invites to read. A striking feature here is the generous view across Puget Sound.
Like colorful Socks under a Suit
In 2004, the “Book Spiral“ was a totally new form of archiving books. And for browsing the Dutch architects created new ways, too. Once again, OMA have proved the impact architecture has on social behavior. During the opening ceremony of the architecture by Rem Koolhaas, a visitor found a colorful comparison. She said: “I like the way the architects emphasize details. It’s like wearing colorful socks under a suit. Their architecture always touches the edge, but never crosses it.”
In 2005, the American Institute of Architects honored Seattle Central Library with the Honor Award for outstanding Building.
Office for Metropolitan Architecture
Year of construction: 2004
GFA: 38,300 m²