You can tell Matt and I are nerds when we do things like, say, squeal in excitement because our favorite NPR reporter has returned from a two week vacation. Still, even we had to admit that it was a bit over the top to be spending an entire day of our honeymoon in a public library.
If I’m not careful, I’m going to sound like I’m used to a pretty pathetic library, so I should clarify that Cleveland actually has a fantastic library system. Ohio in general actually has an amazing library network, I think we top lists, yearly, for our wonderful libraries. This isn’t so much about the books, though, it’s about the super cool building. The Seattle library has got to be the coolest library I’ve ever seen.
The outside of the building is interesting, lots of glass and weird angles, but nothing too out of the ordinary really. It’s the inside that got me. Everything is super modern and sleek, to the point of feeling futuristic, but there’s still something about the place that screams “library!” Well, whispers actually, otherwise it would be thrown out.
It think what really struck me about the space was the way the separate floors were not necessarily cordoned off by ceilings, most areas took advantage of the ample natural light streaming in through the slanted glass walls. I shudder to think how much it would cost to heat a place like that, but I suppose that’s the advantage of living in the Pacific Northwest… winter really means something different there.
You would think, with the wide open feel of the building, there would be a constant paranoia wherever you went. I didn’t get that sense however, in most work and rest areas, though they are easily observed, there is an illusion of privacy both visually and in terms of noise.
Only a few areas seemed to be set off into formal room structures: the children’s library (which I’ll discuss tomorrow probably) and a sort of indoor amphitheater. The rest flowed smoothly together, feeling both super high-tech, but somehow light and relaxed at the same time. Since most ultra-modern structures come with a feeling of hardness- cold and sterile, that’s an impressive balance to strike. I can easily see the Seattle Library being a place not only to research, but to spend time.