Bookmark and Share

Central Library, Seattle


A new Central Library for Seattle opened in 2004, with a radical design by Rem Koolhaas. In line with Seattle's well-established policies in support of public art, commissions for the library have been administered by the City's Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. Independent consultants were appointed to write a public art plan for the project, proposing a programme of commissions to be realised in overlapping phases.

The Peephole Series, temporary artworks related to the library's collections, were presented during the construction of the new library. Three major environmental and time-based site-integrated commissions by Ann Hamilton, Gary Hill and Tony Oursler were incorporated within the library's design. Comprising a project called The Library Unbound, 'process-based' commissions related to the day-to-day functions of the library, are currently at various stages of development.

The design of the library is flexible, to accommodate technological and social changes. Accordingly, the site-specific artworks reflect this mutable quality. Those using new digital media are not designated as permanent, being scheduled for review after ten years.