12 October, 2010

Seattle Library

Seattle City Library

The second city we visited on our US tour was Seattle, and for many of us it was our favourite place. The City has a good feeling about it and is set beautifully into Puget Sound.

The Library is just amazing, it has won a number of architectural prizes and is a real iconic building for the City.

Seattle Library has 26 branches and 1 Central Library. In 1998 Seattle voters approved a USD$196M bond measure to fund the “Libraries for All” building program. The program was delivered from 1998-2008 under the leadership of the then City Librarian Deborah L. Jacobs. It was one of the largest and most comprehensive library capital construction programs in the U.S. and included the renovation of 22 branches, the construction of 4 new branches plus the construction of the new Central Library.

The “Libraries for All” program is now complete and under the leadership of the new City Librarian Susan Hildreth, the Seattle Public Library is currently engaging the community to develop a new strategic direction.

The new library opened in 2004. It is double the size of the former Central Library built in the 1960’s on the same site.

Size: 412,000 sq ft; including 49,000 sq ft for parking.
Cost: USD$165M
Library bookstock: 1.4m items
Public Computers: 400

This bold and innovative building was designed by international award winning Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. It is a contemporary steel structure cut like a diamond and wrapped in glass. Occupying a full city block the library is one of the city’s icons.

This library is built over 11 levels and is a series of asymmetric platforms positioned so as to transform a rather ordinary outlook into spectacular internal and external views with multiple vantage points. The library was awarded a silver LEED rating for sustainable environmental design and construction.

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