Architect Rem Koolhaas of The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) designed a definite city Landmark. The Seattle Central Library is a delightful experience rich with volumes and spaces that reveal themselves differently depending on the position they are viewed from. Interesting to know that the main form givers are the functionality of the Library and the site restrictions.
Architect Joshua Ramus, partner at the Rem Koolhaas-led Office for Metropolitan Architecture explains: "Although the library is sculptural, it is not in any way an attempt to make a form. The library's appearance comes from pushing boxes around to stay within the height and setback restrictions and zoning codes."
The Seattle Central Library is situated at the corner of a block in the centre of Seattle. On 412.000 sf, it accommodates an auditorium, a reading room, a mixing chamber, a living room, a staff floor, a children's play area and meeting places. The program is organized in terms of platforms which are connected by escalators and elevators.
In these days when Information is at accessible through numerous medias, especially the Internet, the role of public libraries need to be reexamined. As explained by the Architects, the ambition is to redefine and reinvent the Library as an institution no longer exclusively dedicated to the book, but as an information store, where all media - new and old - are presented under a regime of new equalities. In an age where information can be accessed anywhere, it is the simultaneity of all media and the professionalism of their presentation and interaction, that will make the Library new.
The fact that the contents of a whole library can be stored on a single chip, or the fact that a single library can now store the digital content of all libraries, together represent a potential for re-thinking: new forms of storage enable the space dedicated to real books to be contained, and new forms of reading enhance the aura of the real book.
The library is transformed from a space to read into a social center with multiple responsibilities.
The building is divided into spatial compartments dedicated to and equipped for specific duties. Flexibility can exist within each section, but not at the expense of any of the other compartments... Change is possible by deliberately redefining use, and rededicating compartments to new programs, size and shape follow function.
The program was `combined` and consolidated to identify five platforms within the apparently ungovernable proliferation of functions and media - each platform a programmatic cluster that is architecturally defined and equipped for optimal performance, with different sizes, densities, opacities.
The in-between spaces are trading floors where librarians inform and stimulate, where the interface between different platforms is organized - spaces for work, interaction, and play. The external enclosure a structural steel and glass skin bring the whole project together, and help define the space around the platforms and the in-between public areas, giving a unique identity to each space.
Both innovative and bold, this projects brought the important issue of the role of the Library in the Information Age. The ideas of the Architects help to embrace the new Technologies while giving the traditional medias the respect that they deserve.
All Pictures by Philippe Ruault
SEATTLE CENTRAL LIBRARY
Client: Seattle Public Library
Architect: OMA|LMN – A Joint Venture
Engineer: Arup / Magnusson Klemencic Associates
Principals: Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus (Partner-in–charge)
Project Architects: Mark von Hof-Zogrotzki, Natasha Sandmeier, Meghan Corwin, Bjarke Ingels, Carol Patterson
Team : Keely Colcleugh, Rachel Doherty, Sarah Gibson, Anna Little, Laura Gilmore, John McMorrough, Chris van Duijn, Kate Orff, Beat Schenk, Saskia Simon, Anna Sutor, Victoria Willocks, Dan Wood with Florence Clausel, Thomas Dubuisson, Erez Ella, Achim Gergen, Eveline Jürgens, Antti Lassila, Hannes Peer, João Ribeiro, Kristina Skoogh, Sybille Waeltli, Leonard Weil, Ali Arvanaghi
Local Architect: LMN Architects
Partner-in-charge: John Nesholm
Project Directors: Robert Zimmer and Sam Miller
Project Architects: Tim Pfeiffer, Steve DelFraino, Mary Anne Smith, Dave Matthews, Vern Cooley, Pragnesh Parikh
Team: Chris Baxter, Jim Brown, Wayne Flood, Thomas Gerard, Mette Greenshields, Cassandra Hryniw, Roy Kim, Ed Kranick, Ken Loddeke, Howard Liu, Damien McBride, Howard Meeks, Byron Rice, Kathy Stallings, Page Swanberg
Structural: Cecil Balmond, Atila Zekioglu, Anders Carlson, Chris Carroll
MEP: Alistair Guthrie, Bruce McKinlay, Stephen Jolly, John Gautrey, Aung Oo, Vahik Davoudi, Amanda Brownlee, Russell Fortmeyer, Tony Cocea, Marina Solovchuk, Fiona Cousins, Christin Whitco
Fire: Armin Wolski, Jim Quiter
IT & A/V: Jonathan Phillips, Raymond Tam, Eric Lockwood, Menandro Domingo
Magnusson Klemencic Associates
Structural: Jon Magnusson, Jay Taylor, Derek Beaman, Hans Blomgren, Nathalie Boeholt
Civil: Drew Gangnes, Darin Stephens
Acoustics: Michael Yantis Associates – Michael Yantis, Basel Jurdy
ADA: McGuire Associates – Kevin McGuire
Artists: Ann Hamilton, Gary Hill, Tony Oursler
Cost: Davis Langdon Adamson – Steve Kelly, David Hudd, Alice Nguyen
Environmental Graphics: Bruce Mau Design – Bruce Mau, Henry Cheung, Jim Shedden, Petra Chevrier, Anita Matusevics
Facades: Dewhurst Macfarlane & Partners – Marc Simmons, Yu-Ting Chen; Front – Marc Simmons
Facade Pre-construction Services: Seele GmbH – Gerhard Seele, Siegfried Gossner, Thomas Geissler, Martin Kugler, Jenniffer Endress
Hardware: Gordon Adams Consulting – Gordon Adams
Interiors: OMA|LMN; Inside Outside – Petra Blaisse, Marieke van den Heuvel, Mathias Lehner, Lieuwe Conradie, Peter Niessen, Jaap de Vries; Maarten van Severen
Landscape: Inside Outside – Petra Blaisse; Jones & Jones – Ilze Jones, Jim Brighton, Shaney Clemmons
Life Safety: Pielow Fair Associates – Bob Pielow
Lighting: Kugler Tillotson Associates – Suzan Tillotson, Wai Mun Chui
Pre-construction Services: Hoffman Construction Washington – Doug Winn, Bob Vincent, Dale Stenning
Vertical Transport: HKA Elevator Consulting – Daryl Anderson
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