Seattle: The Seattle Public Library

The Seattle Public Library helped mint Seattle as a place I’d love to visit on a regular basis. Great coffee, great dance scene- what else is there to ask for? (I guess a less dreary winter but having lived in Portland, just get outside and deal.)

Already a huge fan of Rem Koolhaus, this collaboration between OMA + LMN is so freaking inspirational. But when I approached the building from the outside during the day (again having done little to no research), I was honestly underwhelmed. I didn’t understand the opportunity the structural formation offered in terms of the interior space- so I guess “never judge a book by its cover”.

I’ll never forget the moment entering the building from the lowest level, taking the elevator to one of the few open floors due to COVID restrictions (must go back to visit the others) and then arriving at the main hall. The light through the trellis window frames, with the minimal amount of furniture- married with the class Koolhaus use of bold colors. I could have stayed there for hours, a chance to have the time and space (two critical themes to rear their heads unbeknownst to me in later 2021) to think and be. I very much plan to go back and grab a book to look occupied while just being immersed in the space.


I’ve been to alot of Koolhaus buildings and the typography is pretty classic OMA. Check that off the list of brand.


Also on brand was the use of bold color. The large swatches of color were scaled to match with the space. I’d be curious to see the palette and maybe (but probably not) read up if there was any significance. This library does in many ways remind me of another favorite library, but building in general, Openbare Bibliotheek. The escalators in particular have a very similar aesthetic and feeling.


Of note is the top most floor and the material choice for the floor. A current colleague of mine in fact asked me if I was able to visit the top floor for this particular reason. Surprisingly noisy, but perhaps a deterrent to making noise? Unusually industrial and cool compared to the warmth of the wood materials of the main floor.

I could not stop taking photos of this place. So many juxtapositions of scale and space and materials and the natural light enabled depth through shadows and texture. I look forward to my quiet afternoon spent well here the next time I visit Seattle.

Address: 1000 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104

Website: The Seattle Public Library- Central Library