Central Library, Seattle, USA

central library

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.

11,900sqm façade
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

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