Central Library: Glass, Steel, and Paper in Seattle, WA

If libraries are paper filled heavens, then Central Library of the Seattle Public Library is more of a modern architectural dream instead of an ancient Mount Olympus. Given some time to myself in the rainy city, I made the choice to explore the Central Library (which was only a few blocks from where I would need to meet back with my friends). Unsurprisingly given my love of architecture and books, this was a wise choice.

Completed and opened in 2004, the Central Library of the Seattle Public Library System sits amidst typical office buildings and grid streets in downtown Seattle. Especially given the surroundings, the building is anything but typical.


The modern structure features assymetricality in glass and steel, a sharp contrast to the 9-5 world around it. The glass, however, serves the purpose of providing the structure with enough natural light to enjoy your reading- even on the highly likely cloudy day.

Of course, the best view of the insanity of this structure is from the top floor and its reading room, but there are so many levels to explore in between the ground level and the top. And, true to library style, the place is a maze.

To keep people from wandering too deep without knowing where to go, the reference section has a layout of the Dewey Decimal System built into the floor (I need to do this to my own future private library!).


Within the library itself, you can find your average best sellers and typical favorites, but this particular library also has a vast selection of genealogical items as well as antique reference books and collections of magazines. I was able to find a pleasantly secluded corner near a window and do a little bit of cursory research on my own family.


And I’d be silly to forget to mention, you should definitely take the stairs if you’re capable lest you miss the experience of walking up into the level where the meeting rooms are located. There’s something crazy but enjoyable about walking into a shiny floor surrounded by nothing but red. Or perhaps I’m just crazy.


Odd quirks aside, the Central Library of the Seattle Public Library system is well worth a special visit should you be in the neighborhood.

The Central Library is located at 1000 4th Avenue in Seattle Washington and is open Monday through Thursday 10 am-8 pm, Friday and Saturday 10 am-6 pm, and Sunday 12 pm-6 pm. For more information, check out their website.

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