Posted by: silverstar98121 | July 22, 2008

I Read in a Koolhaas

I read in a Koolhaas magnet.

I read in a Koolhaas magnet.

Or anyway that’s what it says on my magnet. I’m talking here about the Seattle Central Library building. It was designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, and is a pretty spectacular piece of work. Unless you are disabled. Then it has a few little glitches. I’m not blaming the architect for most of them, I’m blaming the contractor.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the building. It’s pretty cool. But as someone pointed out in the Seattle Times:

“My impression was that the designers went for the minimum as far as accessibility,” said Julie Grant, who is with the University of Washington’s DO-IT program for disabled students. “It’s like someone pulled out a book with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) codes and did ‘just’ that, and nothing more.”

And then there’s the glitches. I’m convinced that they did the entrances backwards. I think the nice entrance with the airlock and wind break was supposed to be on the west side, not the east side. Most of the wind in the winter seems to come from the west, and it blows the disabled doors wide open and keeps them that way unless somebody goes to catch them. Meanwhile, on the east side, the switches for the disabled doors are “backward”. They are for the most part on your right. I got trapped in a dark air lock when I couldn’t get the door open by the switch. Seems the switches are on the left. Rather than make a true remedy, they just painted “Out” and “In” under the switches. The ramps in the stacks that were supposed to make it so much easier for the disabled are barely wide enough for a scooter. (They could fix that by getting shorter bookshelves.) And the doors on the elevators are too fast for a lot of disabled people. They also had to paint big wheelchairs on the disabled doors, because nobody could find them.

Enough bitching. Anyway, Friday and I went to the library the other day. I hate going when I don’t have Epona, because I have to walk downhill from the bus stop, and I end up waddling like a duck with one short leg on a slope. This usually manages to wrack my back for a while. Fun. Fortunately, I can take another bus home, and don’t have to walk uphill to the bus stop. Did I mention I love one-way streets? I could probably get dropped off right in front of the place if 4th Ave. wasn’t one way.

I had to go. Books were due. But lucky me, no books were on hold for me. Any day I walk out with less books than I walk in with is a good day. But after Daisy Fae’s virtuoso performance, I wanted some Fleetwood Mac. My quest was in vain, however, apparently Fleetwood Mac is very popular in Seattle. There was one CD that was supposed to be in, so I went looking for it.

The first mistake I made was only writing down half of the call numbers. That got me to the Rock and Roll bins. Then I had to figure out if it went by album name or group name. So I don’t see anything in the “F”s, so I go looking in the “S”s, where the album might be. No luck, but I did manage to snag some Santana and Bob Seeger, so it wasn’t a waste.

Back to the catalog computers, where I look for the number again. Ah, it should be in the “F”s, but of course it’s not. Bummer. Oh well, the Christmas music is right there, and I like Christmas music. If you want some Christmas music to rip, this is the time to get it. I can guarantee you it won’t be there after Thanksgiving.

So, we checked out our CD’s, and went home. Where I proceeded to put a hold on every Fleetwood Mac CD in the collection. I won’t see some of them for months. But I got a notice today that three of them are in, so will probably wander down there, hopefully tomorrow, after Epona is fixed. Goddess willing, and the creeks don’t rise.


  1. You know, a lot of design work is done in an office somewhere and I’d hazard a guess that many designers don’t even visit the sites where their designs will ultimately be constructed.

    Seems to me that there’s an opportunity for an educated, literate and articulate person (such as yourself) to provide detailed analysis of architectural design, siting and add commentary from the perspective of someone who has a little more difficulty getting around.

  2. I try Rob, I try. I have posted on some buildings accessibility on View from the Bottom of the Shaft.

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