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Monday, February 18, 2013

The Always Ugly Beacon Hill Branch Library

Posted by on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 9:19 AM

Everyday, I have to face the fact that it just won't go away, that it's here to stay...


The neighborhood has Carlson Architects to blame for this mess...
Carlson Architects design responds directly to the site. Resembling an upturned canoe, the building″s roof is composed of two curving sections that jut out from the facade at an off–axis angle from the surrounding streets: forming an instant landmark and beacon for the neighborhood. This hull–like form is echoed by an abstract sculpture of a boat that rises on a pole at one end of the building, puncturing its roof. Designed by local artist Miles Pepper, the sculpture was also funded by the library″s bond measure, which provided for public art in all libraries.
I do much prefer the library's old location, which, like a storefront church, had at least a certain honesty and humility.


Comments (31) RSS

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I've never been there, but the building looks alright to me on the outside. Maybe I don't have a well developed taste for architecture.
Posted by floater on February 18, 2013 at 9:31 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 2
Maybe it's me, but storefront churches do not project "honesty" to me.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on February 18, 2013 at 9:37 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 3
I suppose you love that monstrosity downtown.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on February 18, 2013 at 9:53 AM · Report this
cressona 4
Of all the new generation of neighborhood branches of the Seattle Public Library--or at least the branches I've been to--Beacon Hill is probably my favorite. Now, it's my favorite because of the view on the inside. Call me a sucker for sweeping cedar ceilings. I haven't given much thought to how it looks from the outside, but then, if I'm there to enjoy the view, it's because I'm enjoying the view sitting in the library.
Posted by cressona on February 18, 2013 at 10:08 AM · Report this
Everyday, I have to face the fact that Charles just wont go away, that he's here to stay...
Posted by bigyaz on February 18, 2013 at 10:09 AM · Report this
KingofQueenAnne 6
I don't know if "humility" is a vibe libraries should be aiming for as they strain to remain relevant in the 21st century. If anything, this architecture—however distasteful it may be to you—might better convey the type of services they need to promote for today's crowd: access to language support, academic and research help, interactive online tutoring, and services like resume support and job searching for marginalized communities.
Posted by KingofQueenAnne on February 18, 2013 at 10:09 AM · Report this
As a long-time Beacon Hill resident, I can assure you the Beacon Hill branch library is a fine addition to the community. It works very well for us.

And honestly, it's orders of magnitude better than the tiny storefront in the dilapidated building that it replaced.
Posted by Citizen R on February 18, 2013 at 10:09 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 8
@3: you don't? outside of the 1st floor men's room, it's awesome!
Posted by Max Solomon on February 18, 2013 at 10:21 AM · Report this
Hey, Georgetown could use a library. Why so ungratful? There is nothing wrong with the building. I'm almost offended that you used church and honesty together in one sentence. Wish I had a library in my hood. I guess we don't read books down here.
Posted by Redhots on February 18, 2013 at 10:22 AM · Report this
fletc3her 10
The pictures look really nice. Does it come across different in person?
Posted by fletc3her on February 18, 2013 at 10:38 AM · Report this
@4, I completely agree. It's a knockout for actual users, which more than makes up for its tendency to annoy passing bloggers.
Posted by gloomy gus on February 18, 2013 at 10:45 AM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 12
Upturned canoe? What's on the site that an upturned canoe is the response? Is there a large lake on Beacon Hill? I don't think the building ugly but those architects sure are a pompous lot.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on February 18, 2013 at 10:56 AM · Report this
It's a fine building, but I think the bigger issue is that it doesn't really fit with the neighborhood at all. We'll see how it looks in another 5 years, I guess.
Posted by doceb on February 18, 2013 at 10:56 AM · Report this
The Beacon Hill library is visually delightful and an important community resource. Charles, you are completely wrong.
Posted by Hansville Pasta Boy on February 18, 2013 at 11:00 AM · Report this
What the fuck is up with your photo Charles? It's a sunny day and you still end up with and under exposed photo? You're posting from a computer and can't find a way to brighten the exposure? Your posts are getting to be as lazy as your opinions.
Posted by jnonymous on February 18, 2013 at 11:26 AM · Report this
"Carlson Architects design responds directly to the site. Resembling an upturned canoe"

How is that site specific? Canoe on a hill?
Posted by Foonken2 on February 18, 2013 at 11:33 AM · Report this
Stop inside, Charles.It's always full but never feels crowded. Library patrons represent the diversity of Beacon Hill: grandparents with magazines, babies gnawing board books, teenagers looking bored--speaking many languages and from a range of income levels.

It's sincere, and honest, and useful. Why would you want it to go away?
Posted by MJ on February 18, 2013 at 11:53 AM · Report this
I'm one of those appreciative library geeks who did that Library Passport thing where you visit every SPL branch and get your little SPL passport stamped. Visiting all the branches was well worth the effort. The Beacon Hill branch was one of the last ones I got to, and of all of them was the most surprising (pleasantly) once I stepped inside. The exterior I think is ok, but grows on you once you appreciate the details. But the interior, in contrast to how you perceive the outside (especially after having visited so many other branches), was the most jaw-dropping. The light, the soaring space, the layout, and all the amazing wood work - inspiring.
Posted by morealex on February 18, 2013 at 12:44 PM · Report this
Fish Wrench Asteroid 19
Telephone and power lines slice up the sky. We should bury them all. The world will feel like it's actual size when you're walking down the street.
Posted by Fish Wrench Asteroid on February 18, 2013 at 12:46 PM · Report this
litlnemo 20
The former Beacon Hill Library was horrendous. Charles is apparently smoking crack today.
Posted by litlnemo on February 18, 2013 at 1:35 PM · Report this
James McDaniel 21
The portrait orientation combined with the building's cramped location along the bottom edge makes this photo read as if the primary subject is the sky, the clouds, or maybe the wires. Only 25% of the frame is filled with the actual subject. It might be "artsy" but it certainly doesn't help readers agree or disagree with your negative assessment of the building's architecture. Next time try landscape and get in a little closer.

"If your picture isn't good enough, you're not close enough." - Robert Capa
Posted by James McDaniel on February 18, 2013 at 2:45 PM · Report this
@17 - "It's sincere, and honest, and useful. Why would you want it to go away?"

because charles is none of those things.

. . . and also all that stuff you said about the community that the patrons generate. you can only say that if it's charles approved. otherwise, it didn't happen!

@20 - "Charles is apparently smoking crack today."

correction:: _every day_
Posted by this_guy_again on February 18, 2013 at 2:59 PM · Report this
The old Beacon Hill library was a leaking shame and the poster child for the library bond issue.

The new Beacon Hill library is gorgeous and functional. It's a dream come true for long-time Beacon Hill residents.

Charles is a troll.
Posted by Charlie Mas on February 18, 2013 at 4:08 PM · Report this
Charles never misses an opportunity to say something annoying and purposefully controversial. He certainly hit the mark on this one. I almost hate to give him the satisfaction of a response. I'm a long time resident of Beacon Hill and absolutely LOVE out library. The old "storefront" library branch was sad and and embarrassing. Think whatever you want of the architecture (personally I think it is quite striking and serves as a lovely landmark in a neighborhood that lacks many landmarks). But more than that, when you step inside, the thing is truly a work of beauty. Both the physical beauty of the design and architecture, but more, the vibrancy of a community coming together in this space. It is an absolute treasure for the neighborhood.
Posted by LikeItIs on February 18, 2013 at 6:35 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 25
Charles, it isn't nice humiliate libraries.
Posted by thatsnotright on February 18, 2013 at 6:43 PM · Report this
This is not the first time Charles has bitched about the library. Apparently a slow news day for Charles is commenting on how much his library design would have been better.

The old store-front wasn't honest or humble, Charles. It was sad. Similar to you and your lack of new ideas to talk about. Old schtick. Your 3 early-morning posts a day are less readable, by the day...
Posted by work harder, Charles. on February 18, 2013 at 7:33 PM · Report this
Charles: What the fuck are you talking about?
Posted by lotus eater on February 18, 2013 at 9:50 PM · Report this
What a rad little building.

You're an idiot, Charles. No, you're worse than an idiot: you're aesthetically impaired. People like you are the reason denizens of more cosmopolitan locales accuse Seattle of being a bunch tasteless rubes. Generally those accusations are confined to our fleece attire, but you won't rest until they're convinced we know nothing about architecture as well.
Posted by WhatTheF%ckChuck? on February 19, 2013 at 9:54 PM · Report this
Charles, your take on this library is so 180 degrees off, I wonder if you might be employing some kind of satire-sarcasm-opposite day logic that I'm not familiar with.

I located some more pictures of it. It's stunning. Especially inside, as another commenter pointed out.…
Posted by SeattleMax on February 19, 2013 at 10:09 PM · Report this
Sorry for the broken link.
Posted by SeattleMax on February 19, 2013 at 10:12 PM · Report this
it seems like the "local, organic" equivalent of one of those late 60s creepy futuristic churches that you see scattered everywhere. the style here is basically that same "spaceship" sentiment over-layed with a rustic fishing processing longhaus. Bruce goff is hella ugly but I still dig it.
Posted by ry coolage on February 20, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this

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