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The IKEA Library

I visited the new Seattle Central Library yesterday with shellyinseattle, and I'm a convert. It's definitely not a typical American design: the colors tend toward neon and the design sense made me think of IKEA with a much bigger budget. I suspect I'll be visiting often, as its almost a perfect environment for writing, with:

  • huge 50 foot ceilings in the lower levels,

  • exterior walls that are all window, in every direction, including straight down,

  • views to Mt. Rainier and the Sound,

  • free wireless connections throughout for your laptop,

  • a one-way escalator to heaven up to the stacks

  • hundreds of computers

  • and easy spiralling access to the collections.

Many sections are merely functional (the furniture is bright, but durable), and the concrete, pipes, rivets and so forth are all exposed. And yet it's all done with enough of a sense of fun that it's not grating. I have no idea how the library will wear over decades, and the impact of 25,000 visitors on opening day was already apparent in scratches, scuffs, and even one bit of torn plaster in the stacks. But right now, it's a shiny new toy. I'll be heading back over the weekend.


( 5 sutras — Your wisdom )
May. 25th, 2004 03:45 pm (UTC)
"Typical American Design." Hmm. And you just back from Vegas, you should know how eclectic we can be *S*.

Sounds really lovely. I saw it during construction, passing through Seattle a few times. The inverted pyramid, right?

Have you seen the downtown LA library? Complete rebuild after the fire, the new one reminds me a bit of Egyptian temples (stairways to heaven, long windows, columns everywhere.)

May. 25th, 2004 07:13 pm (UTC)
Yep, the inverted pyramid, sort of. The stacks are all on the top level.

Haven't seen the LA library, but it sounds lovely. Hope to visit LA again someday, when I sell my screenplay. Which I have yet to write. :)
May. 25th, 2004 06:23 pm (UTC)
I'm horribly jealous of you. They've been in the process of building us a new library (on the site of the old library) for about two years now. It's predicted to be done late in 2005. In the meantime, they've shoehorned some of the collection into rented space, but all the older reference books have been sent to long-term storage. Of course, this means that when I see what I think will be a perfect reference book--it's never available.
May. 25th, 2004 07:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the Seattle library collection was in a temporary holding area for a couple years, and the simultaneous restorations of many local branches meant we were without a bookish place for quite a while. The fact that its a very modern building rather than a dark, oppressive, Harold Washington, old-style public building just pleases me no end.

And having all the nonfiction collections so easily available is a huge plus for me. I could burble on for quite a while, but the Seattle Central Library pictures do it justice as well.
May. 26th, 2004 01:48 pm (UTC)
I wanted to go on opening day but didn't want to deal with the crush of people. I just assumed all 143 parking places would be filled.

And it occurred to me that I really didn't have anything to do at the library once I got there, having been to Powell's just prior.

If I lived nearby I imagine I'd be there all the time taking advantage of the free WiFi.
( 5 sutras — Your wisdom )

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