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Rem Koolhaas in Seattle


Rem Koolhaas in Seattle
By Raymund Ryan -

The first view of Seattle Central Library is at night.  It rises from sloping terrain as a multi-splayed parallelepiped.  Zigzagging or sashaying upward, the library is glimpsed as a set of hovering protrusions framed by the orthodox walls of adjacent buildings.  
Is it some mysterious work of engineering?  An igneous eruption from deep within Earth’s crust?  The latest interactive entertainment complex?  
Orthogonal facades, and the extensive sloping planes that connect them, are all made from a diagonal steel web in-filled with dull glass.  The taut, contiguous skin gives the project a certain uniformity or morphological unity.  
In close-up, the giant fishnet membrane – part-honeycomb, part thin x-ray lattice – is mechanical yet sexy: it reflects back the tops of passing automobiles and blinking walk signs whilst also allowing strange, filmic views into the library interior.
The second view of Seattle Central Library is at mid-morning.  Oceanic air.  Gentle wash of rain.  
Architect Rem Koolhaas and some collaborators from his Rotterdam-based Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) are about to lead a group of the architecturally curious throughout the complex.
We’re in The Living Room, the principal civic volume of the library, entered directly from Fifth Avenue, the uppermost perimeter of the site.  A soaring space edged by vast screens of crisscross membrane canted inwards.  Recollections, perhaps, of the geometric confidence of such American architects as pre-Postmodern Kevin Roche and I.M. Pei.  
A cubic auditorium digs downward to connect with a second entry hall, one storey below on Fourth Avenue.  Above us, a floating glass wall screens a bright red interior.  Directly overhead, an expansive soffit is propped by gigantesque tilted columns.
Within architecture, what is the inverse of vertigo?  Ascension Voyeurism?  Vertical-Take-Off fetish?  
Our third view of Seattle Public Library is inside the narrow...

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