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Seattle Central Library, USA, OMA / LMN – A Joint Venture
Commissioned:1999 Completed: 2004 –

From the Original Project Proposal 1999
At a moment when libraries are perceived to be under threat from a shrinking public realm on one side and digitization on the other, the Seattle Central Library creates a civic space for the circulation of knowledge in all media, and an innovative organizing system for an ever-growing physical collection – the Books Spiral. The library’s various programs are intuitively arranged across five platforms and four flowing “in between” planes, which together dictate the building’s distinctive faceted shape, offering the city an inspiring building that is robust in both its elegance and its logic. readmore
Total 38,300m2, including 33,700m2 reading room, book spiral, mixing chamber, meeting platform, living room, staff floor, children’s collection, auditorium, and 4,600m2 of parking

Sustainable Design and Features
“Energy and atmosphere: Building designed to outperform Seattle energy code by 10 percent; about half the glass used in the curtain wall is triple-glazed with an aluminum expanded metal mesh sandwiched between two panes to reduce heat buildup from sunlight; no chlorofluorocarbon-based refrigerants in air conditioning and no halon gases in fire suppression system; control systems meter HVAC systems, water usage and energy performance of the building.” read more

Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), Silver certification

High-Tech Bibliophila,
by Paul Goldberger, The New Yorker Magazine

“If you wanted to build a new library downtown somewhere, Rem Koolhaas is probably the last architect you would think to hire. For years, Koolhaas has been ranting about how traditional cities don’t matter anymore, and how the rise of new technologies has made public space obsolete, and how when people leave their houses the only thing they want to do is shop. His firm, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, which is based in Rotterdam, wasn’t on the original list of architects being considered for a new library in Seattle, but one day in 1999 Koolhaas’s partner, Joshua Ramus, who comes from Seattle, got a phone call from his mother saying she had read in the local newspaper that any architect who wanted to be considered should show up the next day for a briefing. Ramus rushed to the airport, flew to Seattle, and eventually the firm got the job.” read more

ARCHITECTURE; The Library That Puts on Fishnets and Hits the Disco,
by Herbert MuschampThe New York Times

“At a dark hour, Seattle’s new Central Library is a blazing chandelier to swing your dreams upon. If an American city can erect a civic project as brave as this one, the sun hasn’t set on the West. In more than 30 years of writing about architecture, this is the most exciting new building it has been my honor to review. I could go on piling up superlatives like cars in a multiple collision, but take my word: there’s going to be a whole lot of rubbernecking going on.” read more

© Nancy Cantwell

1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle, WA 98104-1109, USA more

Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus (Partner in Charge)

Arup / Magnusson Klemencic Associates

Project Architects:
Meghan Corwin, Mark von Hof-Zogrotzki, Bjarke Ingels, Carol Patterson, Natasha Sandmeier

Keely Colcleugh, Rachel Doherty, Sarah Gibson, Laura Gilmore, Anna Little, John McMorrough, Kate Orff, Beat Schenk, Saskia Simon, Anna Sutor, Victoria Willocks, Dan Wood with Florence Clausel, Thomas Dubuisson, Chris van Duijn, Erez Ella, Achim Gergen, Eveline Jürgens, Antti Lassila, Hannes Peer, João Costa Ribeiro, Kristina Skoogh, Sybille Waeltli, Leonard Weil, Ali Arvanaghi


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