This is a remarkable staircase. It’s enclosed in glass, and so the higher the floor, the better the view of the neighborhood and the city. Seattle on the sixth floor is something to behold—the office towers, the Space Needle, the blue sky or low clouds, depending on the day. Like every nut, bolt, and plank, in this building, thought went to into the decision to make a glass staircase. The thinking: The elevator continually adds to the energy costs of the building; stairs, once completed, once built, do not. But people naturally prefer not to use their own energy to get around but to exploit the energy of something else—a car, a rickshaw, an elevator. How do you solve this conflict? Make the convenience of using something else’s energy lower than the reward of expending your own. In the Bullitt, that reward is the spectacular view in the glass-enclosed staircase.
It’s fair to consider the public opening of the Bullitt Center, which is this Monday (April 22, at 11 am), as the most important architectural event in our city since the completion of the Olympic Sculpture Park in 2007, which in turn was the most important architectural event since the completion of the building that made Rem Koolhaas a star, the Central Library, in 2004.