Pacific Northwest Architecture
Seattle Central Library
Address
1000 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, Washington
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Photograph courtesy of The Seattle Public Library
Basic Information
Designed by Rem Koolhaas
Cost $165,500,000
Type Government Building
Floors: 11
More Information
  • Retail space: 300 square feet
  • Parking: 143 spaces
  • Opening day visitors: 28,000
  • New library cards issues on opening day: 461
  • The building's skin is made up of almost 10,000 panels of glass.
  • The building hangs 45 feet over the Fourth Avenue sidewalk.
  • Vertical columns: 20. All of the rest are at angles.
  • Floor space: 412,000 square feet
  • Parking space: 49,000 square feet
  • Book capacity: 1.4 million volumes
  • Architect: Rem Koolhaas
  • Architect: Joshua Ramus
  • Architecture firm: Office for Metropolitan Architecture
  • Architecture firm: LMN Architects
  • 60-year-old Ed Wirkala was the first person to check out a book at the new library. He got audiobook versions of "The Road to Wellville" and "The Corrections."
  • 93-year-old Irina Ratner was the first person into the library when it opened.
  • The heart of the library is an area known as the Living Room, where people gather to read books, newspapers, and magazines in comfort and companionship.
  • Unlike some big city libraries which have gone so far as to ban bottled water and backpacks, this library welcomes its visitors with a coffee bar and even a gift shop.
  • The children's section is its own 15,000-square-foot space separate from the rest of the library, with its own family-friendly restrooms.
  • The children's section has shelves that vary in height with the target age of the reading material.
  • The black fire insulation is exposed for people to see, and mixed with reflective pieces to give it visual interest.
  • One section of the floor is decorated with the alphabets of 11 different languages. It's a sculpture you can walk on by artist Ann Hamilton.
  • The ceiling on the top floor is covered with pillows as a sound-deadening mechanism.
  • The building has a number of both public and private spaces. Some spectacular, and some strange, like the hallway that is painted entirely in red, including the floor, and illuminated by red lights.
  • There is an entire room of books dedicated to aerospace. The 9,000+ volumes were collected through annual donations made by Boeing since 1928.
  • The wood floors are made of recycled pieces left over from lumberyards.
  • The carpet is actually made out of metal thread for extended durability and ease of cleaning. It is claimed that the carpet can actually be mopped clean.
  • Glass on the sunny sides of the building has a layer of aluminum mesh inside the panes in order to scatter the direct light.
  • The top floor was designed so that the administrative offices would have a view of Mount Rainier.
  • None of the building's outside corners are connected vertically to the ground.
  • The metal grid that makes up the building's skin helps transfer the energy of an earthquake back into the ground.
  • The library includes a writer's room, music rehearsal space, conference rooms, an auditorium, and sound-proof pods for listening to music.
  • The library has an automated system for sorting returned books. It senses each book's RFID tag, orients the book the right way, and loads it onto the appropriate cart to be returned to the shelves.
  • 1902: Construction began on the first library opened on this site. It cost $100,000 and was 55,000 square feet.
  • 1906: Construction finished.
  • 1960: The second library on this site opened. It was 206,000 square feet and cost $4,500,000.
  • May 23, 2004: The current library opened to the public.