Posts Tagged 'exterior'

physical model: fold up

fold up model

This representation is the paper fold up model distributed to patrons of the Seattle Central Library, commemorating its opening. From a single surface, by cutting and folding, patrons could easily create the complex sinuous volume of this building. In fact, this model allowed the general public to roughly experience architect’s usual abstraction of 3-D space from a 2-D drawing. Offering a low entry barrier to architectural models, this representation can be compared to the several blogging services (such as wordpress) available on the internet which allow people without any programming skills to take an active role in the digital revolution. For example, this electronic project was only possible with the intuitive, easy and complete tools available in wordpress, which allowed to catalogue and structure in a simple manner our ideas regarding architecture in different media. Having created a database of different representations, only the electronic networked environment of this blogging service permitted the different connections between mediums to be revealed by using the established tag cloud. In fact, this simple digital tool allowed an architect and a film student to roughly experience a programmer’s usual abstraction of code into a functioning program.

3-D wireframe: walking approach to building

3D approach

This sequence of images illustrates the approach to the Seattle Central Library by a pedestrian walking North on 5th Avenue. These images have been rendered to wireframe in 3-D Computer Assisted Drawing software, which in this situation was used to calculate the different perspectival views of the East and South elevations of the library, as well as of the surrounding buildings. The library is differentiated from the rest of the buildings by the higher level of detail, conveying a tactile impression of its glass and steel net envelope. Even if in this example the building is central in the images, there is an underlying focus on the absent presence of the human subject, which structures the entire storyboard. On the initial images it is only visible the unusual and dislocated silhouette of the building, but as the pedestrian approaches, the interior of the building and its floating platforms are revealed. In the later views of this sequence, the pedestrian curiously does not enter the library but passes just next to it. This seems to sustain the Benjaminian notion of architecture being collectively consumed and absorbed in a state of distraction. In this case, by not entering, the absent pedestrian appropriates this piece of architecture only by perception (or sight), entirely dismissing the complementary appropriation of architecture by use (or touch).


t-shirt I read in a Koolhaas

Here the Seattle Central Library is represented on the t-shirts available for purchase by patrons at the library’s gift shop which reads “I read in a Koolhaas”. This representation is worn by people, as a memento of their trip to the library. Like the prominent t-shirt with designer-name logo, now patrons can also exhibit their taste in buildings on their body. Through this deliberate product of the marketing/branding exercise, the image of the building is suddenly transformed into an article of consumption and circulated around the globe, as if the architecture had suddenly lost its mass and volume, and could now be consumed in such an original medium as clothing. Rather than architecture hosting the body, it is the body that hosts architecture, creating an extraordinary inversion of the traditional roles. In some way, this can be considered as an peculiar embodiment of architecture.

floating platforms physical model

floating platforms model

In this example, the Seattle Central Library is represented by the conceptual physical model of the organization of its interior spaces, namely the overlapping of the floating platforms of program. This model illustrates the duality of spaces created, particularly the enclosed spaces inside the boxes and the open spaces on top of them, generated by the notion of compartmentalized flexibility. Also evident is the vertical circulation system comprised of several escalators connecting the different floors. Functioning as a linear and sequential system, this sequence of spaces seems comparable to a landscape by the railway. While the train speeds by the surrounding landscape, patrons of the library are efficiently transported towards the top by the escalators crossing the different spaces, creating a similar dissociation between people and the traversed surroundings. However, the experience elaborated for the travelers on the escalators attempts to actively engage with our current mode of perception by offering several views of artworks during their ascent and descent, as well as some glimpses into the crossed spaces. This system of escalators also contributes to the creation of a hyper-connectivity or geographical space within this building, where importance is conceded to the connecting nodes and withdrawn from the spaces in between.

photo: personal snap shot

flickr image fromform

In this image, the Seattle Central Library is illustrated in a personal photo uploaded on the popular photo sharing website flickr by the user fromform taken during the opening of the library. We can observe the playful interaction between the two friends and the metallic mesh on the 5th avenue entrance of the library. Unlike most common photographic records of this building, here the focus is on the people in the photograph and not on the library, which is relegated to mere scenery. However, by engaging with the façade’s net, they offer a new reading of the building, namely by giving a proper sense of the scale of this massive grid pattern of the façade. In this user’s online photo, as well as those of most other users, the viewer is invited to observe a private moment . This level of personal exposure is now available to everyone, and the boundaries between privacy and publicity become ever more blurred, mostly produced by the new business plan of web2.0 sites where users generate the content. This picture which serves to this specific user as a memento of the time spent at the library with her friend thus becomes another way through which this piece of architecture is mediated and exposed to the larger public.

see fromform’s photographic set of Seattle’s Central Library here

NY Times review

The Library That Puts on Fishnets and Hits the Disco

by Herbert Muschamp, published on May 16, 2004

“Quite apart from its strengths in structure, form and space, the building exemplifies Rem Koolhaas’s reliance on the architectural program: the organization of space according to use and function. Because of the clarity of this example, the Central Library’s impact on architecture could be profound.”

“Aesthetics have entered into the design of the building at the earliest stages of planning, in other words, before the purely visual decisions have been made. It is pointless, with this project, to separate formal and social organization. How people use a space is no less a matter of form than the most abstract visual composition. As such, a building program can be subject to aesthetic articulation. “

check the full version of the original review by the architectural critic of the New York Times here

This textual representation of the Seattle Central Library was written by the architectural critic of the New York Times (at the time), Herbert Muschamp. In this review, not only the specific physical spaces of this building are reviewed (and highly praised), but its conceptual framework is further explained. Moreover, in this article this architectural piece is also positioned in the current architectural discourse, in Seattle’s architectural landscape and in the architect’s conceptual ideas. This textual piece constructs architecture as an exercise beyond physical built space, as a discipline inhabiting several other dimensions. Here, the Seattle Central Library is described in a duality of solitary absorption spaces and crowd scenes arenas, where users become sometimes actors and some others spectators, but ends by arguing that it is in the delicate balance and fusion between these elements that art takes shape. In Muschamp’s praise of this building he also sees the importance of this structure not solely in the dramatic and pragmatic program rearrangement, but in the possibilities opened by it, much like the importance of computers not lying in their capacity for calculation, but in the fact that they enabled new generations of media. Like the computer experience, also this library displays a design based on a creative process and undertaken with the user in mind.

photo: exterior at night

photo exterior night

(from the corner of 4th avenue at night)

Here is another photo directed to the professional realm which depicts the building without humans despite being able to see inside it because of the relative exterior darkness. The library does appear “friendlier” at night as its functional nature, via its program platforms, is made visible. It “explains” itself, rather than appearing as an inexplicable monolith. In these photos, through which the building communicates itself to other architects and builders, it is most frequently shown in full, emphasizing its outline which OMA has deemed a “genetic” modification of a typical American high-rise, making the building “sensitive,” “contextual,” and “iconic.” (OMA Proposal, pg. 24)