Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas unveils his design for The Seattle Public Library's new Central Library on December 15, 1999.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 4/23/2003
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 4163
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On December 15, 1999, Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas unveils his design for a new $156 million Central Library for The Seattle Public Library. The "space age" (Times) building will have five levels held together with a copper skin of foot-thick metal tubes in a honeycomb pattern that will give the structure its support.

In 1998, Seattle voters approved the Libraries for All bond issue, which provided for replacement or upgrade of all the branch libraries as well as a new Central Library. The International Style library building at 4th Avenue and Madison Street opened in 1960 and after almost 40 years of service, was at the end of its useful life. Koolhaas won a bid competition in May 1998 to submit a design for the new building.

Koolhaas stated, "It would be a pity [for the new library] to be as boring" as the buildings around it (Seattle P-I). He wanted the new building to accommodate books, but also many kinds of readers including the disabled and homeless people that frequent the library.

The old building was demolished in November 2001. The new Central Library opened on May 23, 2004.


Phuong Le, "The Building Will Be an 'Invitation,' " Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 16, 1999, p. A-1; Robin Updike, "Downtown Library Space-Age Design Goes Beyond Books," The Seattle Times, December 16, 1999, p. A-1.
Note: This file was updated on December 15, 2004.

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