The Seattle Public Library

The Central Library of The Seattle Public Library redefines library as not just a place for books, but as a community media center that offers access to information in all of its forms. The Central Library, by Rem Koolhaas, OMA, stands out as a prime example of modern conceptual architecture. After studying the progression of books as a media along with current media technology, OMA architects began to design a building that could be adapted to meet the needs of our ever evolving society. The eight layers of the building alternate between five stable spaces meeting traditional program demands and three dynamic, multi-functional spaces. These spaces are then arranged to take advantage of the sites best qualities, reacting to the urban conditions and view corridors. The five stable compartments are intersected by the Reading Room, Mixing Chamber, Living Room, and Children’s Library.

To unify the different layers, the building was wrapped with a metal and glass skin that not only provides lateral stability, but also brings in large amounts of ambient natural light. The glass used was unique in that it is opaque when viewed from the exterior, making the library appear as one unified body.

The largest programmed space is the book spiral, designed as a parking lot for books. With all of the bookshelves along one continuous path, the Dewey Decimal system becomes natural and intuitive, making hundreds of bookshelves manageable and easy to navigate. This dynamic system also allows for a library to easily expand its collection of books. The large multi-use spaces such as the Living Room and Mixing Chamber, along with smaller private rooms such as the music practice rooms, provide a multitude of spaces for creative interaction and exploration. The variety of versatile spaces creates a library that not only stores books, but provides the community with a public source of inspiration.

-Patrick and Emily

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