The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Tuesday, March 27, 2007
An architecture critic Lawrence Cheek re-examines the widely heralded downtown Seattle Public Library, and he sees little to praise:

Its provocation has infused us with new thinking about the possibilities of architecture and urbanism, far more than the Space Needle and Experience Music Project ever did. The Needle is beautiful and EMP is bizarre, but the Central Library has both of these qualities plus a visible structural integrity that seems almost spiritual. We feel these qualities at gut level when we walk around the building or wander through as sightseers. It's only when we settle in for a day's real library work that the design failures suddenly intrude.

One of the dissapointments Cheek points out is that there are no places within the library that are truly comfortable for study and reading.

I still remember visiting the main Research branch of the NYPL, with its wood tables and green lamp shades, which almost beg the visitor to sit and read. What a contrast. The Alvar Aalto designed library at Mt. Angel Abbey (where I worked for a year) was a delight - beautiful light combined with very human spaces and furniture.

To be fair, I still haven't visited the new SPL. I will have to weigh in when I have done so.