One of the places I wanted to visit on our trip to Seattle this year was the Public Library designed by Rem Koolhaas. I first became familiar with the work of Rem Koolhaas when I was working on the Harvard Graduate School of Architecture website redesign nearly 12 years ago, where Koolhaas is a professor. Also around that time, the innovative Prada store designed by Koolhaus had opened its doors in Soho. The Seattle Library is probably the nicest library I’ve ever been in. While the architecture of the NY Public Library is steeped in history, having recently celebrated its 100 year old anniversary and guarded by a pair of large stately lion sculptures on either side of its wide front steps, the Seattle Central Library is light and air filled with its steel and glass construction and built with sustainable materials wherever possible. Typography plays a big part in the design. Large signage anchors and identifies the different floors and sections of the 8 story building with bold san serif lettering, and there are some surprising and fun elements and bright pops of color, like the all red 4th floor and the neon yellow escalators.
I’m not really sure what took us SO long to check the library out, but it might just become a regular visit on our Seattle trips.
Here’s an amusing interview with Koolhaas along with an exterior shot of the library.