Rivaling the Space Needle and the Museum of Pop Culture for architectural ingenuity, Seattle Central Library looks like a giant diamond that's dropped in from outer space. Conceived by Rem Koolhaas and LMN Architects in 2004, the $165.5 million sculpture of glass and steel was designed to serve as a community gathering space, a tech center, a reading room and, of course, a massive storage facility for its one-million-plus books. Come here to enjoy art, architecture, coffee and literary comfort.
The overall style of the library is phenomenal both outside and in. Lemon-yellow escalators, hot-pink chairs and zippy wi-fi connections make for a modern, tech-friendly experience. There are also 132 research computers available in the Mixing Chamber, where librarians in teams help with in-depth research. The Book Spiral, spanning several floors, holds most of the library’s nonfiction books. Guests can take self-guided tours using their cell phones (signs display which stop number you need to enter).
The library is spread over 11 levels with parking provided underground. Public art is spread liberally around the facility, but the design pinnacle is undoubtedly the 12,000-sq-ft reading room on level 10 with 40ft glass ceilings. It has amazing light, great views of downtown and seating for up to 400 people.