Seattle Central Library / 2005

ArchitectOMA - Office for Metropolitan Architecture

Executive ArchitectLMN Architects

Structural EngineersMagnusson Klemencic Associates / Arup

Services EngineerArup

ContractorHoffman Construction Company

Façade ContractorSeele GmbH / Walter & Wolf

Motivated by the changing nature of knowledge and information storage in our contemporary lives, this project redefines the traditional notion of the public library and its programmatic organization. The 362,744 ft2 (33,700 m2) library takes the form of a series of stacked and shifted volumes, informed by various studies mapping three-dimensional relationships of programmed library functions and spaces. This creates numerous irregular façade conditions, including low-sloped skylights, vertical curtain walls and under-slung glazing; all of which are intended to unite aesthetically as a uniform diagrid. The design utilizes a custom stick-built aluminum and steel façade system, with an expressed mechanical restraint cap at the exterior. The density of the aluminum mullions and steel diagrid replaces the need for interior blinds; however, for areas with direct exposure, an innovative aluminum mesh is encapsulated in the airspace of the triple glazed glass units to achieve enhanced shading while maintaining the natural quality of daylight within the building. Front consulted on the façade system from schematic design through construction administration and ensured that all components of the façade were tightly coordinated by deploying numerically controlled machining of every element, to facilitate factory and on-site quality management. The design process was highly collaborative and workshop-oriented, enabling the façade system design to evolve and be refined through the construction of extensive performance and visual mockups, as well as factory and on-site quality management.