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Cox Crow

Asking the Stupid Questions Since 1971
 Friday, May 21, 2004

The Library

In "High-Tech Bibliophilia," his review of the Seattle library, Paul Goldberger writes,

I thought of the Carrère & Hastings building often as I walked through the Seattle library. Two buildings could not possibly look less alike, but both were born of a marriage of earnestness and opulence. When the library on Fifth Avenue was finished, in 1911, a grand library that was free to the public was still a fresh, almost radical notion, and the architecture was intended to give it gravitas. In the same way that McKim, Mead & White designed the original Pennsylvania Station to confer a kind of nobility on the act of entering and leaving the city, Carrère & Hastings expected the public library not only to house books but to dignify the act of seeking them out.

The New York Public Library has two things the Seattle library doesn't: the front steps, and Bryant Park.

Meanwhile, Seattle has a cheese grater.

9:19:48 PM # Google It!
categories: Place

A Uncomfortable Spot to Read a Book

Jon Udell remarked yesterday on the differences between The New Yorker's fawning review of the new Seattle Public Library and Keith Pleas's brutal assessment of its usability.

Bravo, Keith! The New Yorker and its readers don't know it yet, but architecture criticism is (or should be) forever changed by what you've done here.

Daniel Berlinger counters that there is more to architecture than usability, but remarks, Thank goodness buildings learn. The thing is, buildings are terribly hard to change. The physical world is not as plastic as the mind, and so we mold our use to the building, rather than correcting the structure to fit our use of it.

I'm on the other side of the country, so must rely on others' impressions of the building, on their words and pictures to tell me about how the structure feels. Yet when I look at these images, I want to flee home, and find comfort in my couch.

This is not a building that wants patrons.

(Well, at least one of the floors is impressive.)

5:36:48 PM # Google It!
categories: Place