seele created a cubically folded building structure for the new central library in the centre of Seattle.

11,900sqm

façade  

10,000

diamond-shaped elements  

3000

prefabricated custom formats

central library in seattle

The new Central Library looms up from the centre of Seattle like a colossal pile of crystal books. Architect Rem Koolhaas merged five adjoining, multi-storey building sections to form an 11-storey library, thus creating a cubically folded building structure suffused with light. Each element defines a physically and functionally distinct library cluster. Just under 12,000sqm of glass façade lend the “Crystal” its appearance and allow spectacular views over the city. With its virtually square, imposing outer dimensions of 60m - 65m, the Central Library is a breathtakingly spectacular structure featuring folded façade surfaces, which, at first glance, might appear bewildering.

  • The project posed a technical challenge in terms of façade construction. Vertical exterior surfaces merge with partial façades that slant inwards and outwards and place the highest demands on the outer skin’s detailing and assembly. Exactly 9,994 panes were assembled, one-third of which were of irregular shapes. Using large-scale steel load-bearing supports a secondary construction, a small-scale, rhomboid steel network is mounted on to the primary construction. This network ensures that the structure remains earthquake-proof and gives the façade its unmistakable architectural attribute. A double layer of anodized aluminium profiles was laid on top for the façade’s glazing.

    The slidable glass panes are clamped over a cover strip disengaging them from the building’s movements. In this way, the building meets the increasingly stringent requirements made on the earthquake-threatened area. Despite the high degree of transparency, glass of varying compositions ensures a pleasant atmosphere inside the building.

    Reference overview and Header image: © Central Library Seattle

  • Just under 12,000sqm glass façade let the central library of Seattle look like a colossal pile of crystal books.
  • Exactly 9,994 panes were assembled for the glass façade of the central library in seattle by seele.
  • On the steel load-bearing supports seele mounted a small-scale, rhomboid steel network to ensure earthquake-proofness of the central library in Seattle.
  • The "folded" Façade, made by seele, of the central library in seattle divides the library into the functionally distinct library clusters.
  • All in all 10,000 diamond-shaped elements are integrated in the façade of the central library in seattle.
  • Because of the location in an earthquake-threatened area, seattle, of the Central library, seele had to consider special requirements for the static.
  • Façade specialist seele assembled the folded façade elements of the central library in Seattle and created with it an hugely spectacular building.
  • The façade of the central library, Seattle, USA, consists of an diamond-shaped aluminium post-and-rail curtain wall system.
  • All together the façade of the Central Library in Seattle has 3.000 unique prefabricated custom formats.
  • seele realized the façade of the central library in Seattle after the plans of the joint venture OMA /LMN.
Just under 12,000sqm glass façade let the central library of Seattle look like a colossal pile of crystal books.
© Central Library Seattle
Exactly 9,994 panes were assembled for the glass façade of the central library in seattle by seele.
© Central Library Seattle
On the steel load-bearing supports seele mounted a small-scale, rhomboid steel network to ensure earthquake-proofness of the central library in Seattle.
© Central Library Seattle
The "folded" Façade, made by seele, of the central library in seattle divides the library into the functionally distinct library clusters.
© Central Library Seattle
All in all 10,000 diamond-shaped elements are integrated in the façade of the central library in seattle.
© Central Library Seattle
Because of the location in an earthquake-threatened area, seattle, of the Central library, seele had to consider special requirements for the static.
© Central Library Seattle
Façade specialist seele assembled the folded façade elements of the central library in Seattle and created with it an hugely spectacular building.
© Central Library Seattle
The façade of the central library, Seattle, USA, consists of an diamond-shaped aluminium post-and-rail curtain wall system.
© Central Library Seattle
All together the façade of the Central Library in Seattle has 3.000 unique prefabricated custom formats.
© Central Library Seattle
seele realized the façade of the central library in Seattle after the plans of the joint venture OMA /LMN.
© Central Library Seattle

Credits

Client Seattle Public Library
Architect OMA / LMN Joint Venture
Engineer Skilling Ward Magnusson Barkshire
Date of completion 2003
Scope of seele supply

Exterior glazing and cladding

  • Design, fabrication and installation of 11,900sqm diamond-shaped aluminium post-and-rail curtain wall system
  • approx. 30,000sqm of aluminium profiles
  • approx. 1,000sqm of gullies
  • approx. 11,600sqm of glazing
  • approx. 6,500 glazing units
Awards
  • Platinum Award American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)  
  • AIA Honor Award for Architecture