I’ve been doing a lot of work this week in the Seattle Public Library. The library offers computer resources which I’ve been using to job hunt. The library also offers quiet, which is a treasured commodity in today’s noisy world. Besides, I love the architecture.
I am sitting inside of a modern art masterpiece. The library, like many innovative structures, is a love it or hate it type of place. Everyone who has seen it or been inside has an opinion on the place, and no one is on the fence. I think that’s great. They built the new Weisman Art Museum when I was a student at the University of Minnesota, and it is another such building. The Weisman was one of the first radical metal designs by architect Frank Gehry, who went on to build the also controversial Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. The designs are similar. Although some deride the structure as a tin can, I think it’s wonderful for a building to dare to be different.
Our downtown library takes that same dare. Designed by Rem Koolhas, the library is supposed to look like a shifting tower of books. There are huge angled windows inside with a gridded network of diamond-shaped supports. Canary yellow escalators lead up and up towards further stacks and reading rooms. One floor is done completely in red, and that floor is set aside for meetings. There’s a garden in one of the reading rooms, and artwork throughout.
There are two pieces of art I particularly like. On the bottom level all of the floorboards are lines from books, and all of these lines are in different languages. It’s great to be surrounded by words in all directions. I also love the art in the main reference room. There is a display system that sits above the reference librarians. This system displays the titles and subjects that people in the library are researching and borrowing. The artwork displays this in real time, using different patterns. This masterpiece is like a moving mind map of the moment. I adore it. I hope to find a great new job sometime soon, but in the meantime I’m enjoying the opportunity to spend more time in one of this city’s magical places.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
143. Is there a building that is controversial where you live? Do you like it? Why or why not?
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