Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Iowa Gives a Shit! | "How Green Is Your Shopping To... »

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Truth About Buildings

posted by on January 3 at 11:55 AM

The Seattle City Hall is bad because is does not tell a truth or offer a course to a truth.
SeattleCityHall.jpg Yes, truths exist. They exist as much as untruths exist. One proof of the existence of untruths is the war in Iraq. There is no truth in that war; it was made possible by a systematic negation of actual facts.

Let’s turn to local architecture.

Bellevue’s City Hall is better than Seattle’s because it tells a truth: Bellevue must awake from the stupid sleep of suburban architecture. And a successful awakening will occur by a public rather than private process. Seattle’s City Hall is worse than Bellevue’s because it says something that is not a fact of life: political and economic power in Seattle is racially and culturally diverse. The management of this city, however, is uniform; nor was there any diversity in the making of the Seattle’s City Hall. Because diversity does not exist in a powerful or actual way in this city, and because there is no real public or private effort to diversify power in Seattle, the City Hall’s diverse look has no reality, it is empty. The lack of a truth has resulted in a building that is not dialogical but an idealogical mess.

What are the greatest truths are the greatest buildings.

RSS icon Comments


The "truth" about Bellevue and its City Hall is that they tore City Hall down and replaced it with a Lexus dealership.

Posted by JMR | January 3, 2008 12:23 PM

Seattle's City Hall is ok, but not great. Bellevue's is definitely better. The truth about the King County Administration Building is that Ron Sims is absolutely right in wanting to tear it down. And the skybridge from the jail should go with it.

Posted by kk | January 3, 2008 12:26 PM

@2 - No...NO...NO!!!!!

They must leave the skybridge from the jail UP, with torn seams from where it was pulled from the razed structure to which it once was coupled, hanging in space, leading nowhere...

This is, after all, the message we send our prisoners in the USA -- we sentence you to make amends to society, we let you out, and then -- neener, neener, neener! -- we still push you down.

God, it would be a move of heretofor unbelievable architectural truth to do this...please, may it be so.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | January 3, 2008 12:31 PM

#3 is right - the skybridge from the administration building, overhead, to county lockup is the truthiest piece of architecture there is.

Posted by Dougsf | January 3, 2008 12:34 PM


Seattle City Hall has a stream running through it that lets rats get into the lobby and a fireplace! I don't understand how you can even think bad things about it, but you're the smart school talking guy with an opinion on everything, so I guess I'll just accept your thoughts and stuff as fact! Thanks.

P.S. We are all just really impressed out here by how big your brain is, and all the thoughts and things that you have. Also the many, many book titles that you write into your posts. But also your very presence is a comfort because you are like us, what with the Star Wars things and stuff. As ABBA said, how wonderful life is with you in the world...It's magical.

Posted by Sheesh | January 3, 2008 12:36 PM

@5 -- Ummm, are you suggesting that Elton John is really Bjorn Ulvaeus? Or, perhaps more likely, Agnetha Fältskog?

Posted by Jubilation T. Corball | January 3, 2008 12:39 PM

To the Sixth Poster - Important Message Follows:

The words you use are confusing, and have dots where there should be no dots. That is crazy talk, and you should stop.

P.S. Elton John was awesome in small dancer you.

Posted by Sheesh | January 3, 2008 12:47 PM

I'm dying. This didn't help.

Posted by Mr. Poe | January 3, 2008 12:49 PM

City Hall needs a climbing wall, indoor mountain bike-testing track, racks of goretex jackets, racks of sleeping bags and tents, and canoes.

Just like any other REI.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | January 3, 2008 12:50 PM

@7 --

My dear sheesh, first of all, you invoked the name of ABBA (and really, it should be A--A, like the Hebrew G-d, or even Them Whose Name Cannot Be Written, due to their magnificence) and then promptly quoted Elton John.

That's my first point.

Second, those of us here in Seattle will do well to embrace our Scandinavian culture and, by extension, our inner umlauts. I embrace my inner umlaut. So should you.

Good day.

PS -- It's TINY dancer, you goofball.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | January 3, 2008 12:54 PM

seattle's city hall is building whose style is very much of its own city and is inviting and open to its citizens.

bellevue's city hall is trying to force change on its city.

seattle's city hall is trying to make a coherent statement with the city.

bellevue's does a good job of representing bellevue- conforms nicely to national standards and expectations.

seattle's city hall does a good job of representing seattle- green certified, democratic and stiving to move foward.

empty? i think not.

Posted by Cale | January 3, 2008 12:57 PM

Hold me close, Atomic Dancer!

Posted by NapoleonXIV | January 3, 2008 12:59 PM

I've never been actually inside the Hall, but from the 4th Avenue side, it's more than a little creepy. Walking from the north, you almost have to go half the block before you even see the actual building since the the west side is dominated by a sterile concrete plaza. This is only broken by a line of red plastic doors with no signage to suggest what's behind them. And the public square portion, with a few pathetic trees, looks like a fine place to operate a firing squad.

The better view is from the King County Courthouse. If you can get above the facility, it looks a whole lot friendlier.

Posted by Westside forever | January 3, 2008 1:06 PM


Posted by crazycatguy | January 3, 2008 1:07 PM

@11 -- If that sockdologizing old man trap of a building "moves forward" into 5th while I'm trying to drive home tonight, I'll come looking for YOU!

If it doesn't crush me.

Now THERE's a perfect City Hall metaphor made manifest...

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | January 3, 2008 1:07 PM

@12 - No, no, we've been through this before. It's "Hold me closer, Tony Danza."

Posted by kid icarus | January 3, 2008 1:55 PM

If it's Tony Danza, the part where he sings Lay me down in sheets of lead doesn't make sense at all.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | January 3, 2008 2:26 PM

@15. Jubilation, Our American Cousin!

Posted by ford | January 3, 2008 2:43 PM

15) i had to look that one up. sockdologizing old man trap eh?

Posted by Cale | January 3, 2008 3:03 PM

them red doors is purty but they is lies. they ain't nothin inside but a hallway.

the plaza serves no function; no one uses it, & no business wants to rent the corner retail space.

Posted by max solomon | January 3, 2008 3:09 PM

Pure psychobabble. Truth is political power is diverse in seattle. The demographics of Seattle are not.

Posted by Jo schmo | January 3, 2008 3:23 PM

I see those red doors and I want to paint them black.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | January 3, 2008 3:29 PM

It's too harsh inside. At some point someone's going to slip and fall and get hurt from all the sharp edges there.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 3, 2008 4:17 PM

I think the message both buildings are sending is:

"Here is a place for the city to put their offices."

Posted by supergp | January 3, 2008 6:59 PM

qcfvr pwixjc vduwbfy pfahrovu uqbywp jmdt fnuwhv

Posted by ezgortda ifwxethlo | January 6, 2008 1:44 AM

qsvdzkc aeyb fhmtupdez azwiebs olbnsucj jfelnghcz vqeobi

Posted by lnxqkd qfulths | January 6, 2008 1:45 AM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).