Perhaps the heresy I am about to utter is bordering on apostasy to my library kindred. I find that the Seattle Public Library Downtown location to fill me with anxiety each time I enter.
People say we are fearful of what we do not know and what is not familiar. The renowned architect of the downtown Seattle public library seems to think it is a jewel box of a building. I personally find it to be a cold biotech house of horrors that encourages people to leave. On the outside, the shell appears to be cool and interesting with it diagonal steel and glass casing that juts out at strange angles.
Maybe if they had limited the space to this accent and otherwise retained the familiar, it would have remained interesting rather than surreal and scary. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The spiral where many of the nonfiction books are held is very clinical in feel. Cold white levels stack one on top of the other with a sickly yellow fluorescent escalator running between them. By the time that I got to the tenth floor, I felt myself on edge. Thankfully the ceiling tiles have white padding that let me know that there was a padded cell waiting everyone who wanted to linger in the crazy building.
I had thought I had gotten over my fear of heights and anxiety of falling. This apparently was not the case in my agitated state when I was looking down from the tenth floor. I wanted to step away and curl in a fetal position. But there was no feeling of refuge that I could find in the downtown Seattle Public Library.
The fourth floor may perhaps be the best example. With the floor, walls and ceiling all in a slick red, I felt like I was inside a blood vessel. Perhaps the logic would go something like this. We all bleed red. What would be more natural than going through a chamber resembling a blood vessel as if we were blood cells in the body of knowledge replenishing our knowledge in the library before going out in the world? Instead, I felt like I was in a Stanley Kubrick or Quentin Tarantino film calling for violence.
Even the garage was tight and difficult, arriving and passing through the ticket booth I found myself very glad to leave.