A few years back I was serving on a committee with Deborah Jacobs, the Seattle City Librarian. During the time the committee met the initial drawings for the new downtown Seattle Library were published, and my initial reaction was that it looked radical and maybe outrageous.
Deborah assured me that she and the staff of the Library had been very involved in the design of the building and that it would be superbly functional for their needs in the new century.
At a dark hour, Seattle’s new Central Library is a blazing chandelier to swing your dreams upon. If an American city can erect a civic project as brave as this one, the sun hasn’t set on the West. In more than 30 years of writing about architecture, this is the most exciting new building it has been my honor to review…
What cities need most of all are strong clients, like Deborah L. Jacobs, Seattle’s city librarian. This is a client who knows exactly what she wants. Terrifying. But there’s never been a great building without a strong client in the history of the world, and Ms. Jacobs is now up there with popes and princes as an instigator of fabulous cities.
I also couldn’t agree more when he goes on to say:
Her achievement is all the more remarkable in light of Seattle’s nasty encounters with architecture in recent years. The Seattle Art Museum, designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, is a rancid piece of work. Frank Gehry’s Experience Music Project looks like something that crawled out of the sea, rolled over and died.
The Seattle Times has more coverage of the new library here.
I know where I’ll be next Sunday – hope to see you there!