Seattle Essentials: Koolhaas' Seattle Public Library

I have a lot on my mind, but present things first: I write this from the new Central Library branch of the Seattle Public Library, designed by Rem Koolhaas. The entire glass and steel structure is a giant free wi-fi hotspot.
It struck me this morning that the end of my stay in Seattle is just around the corner, and all morning I've felt a bit nostalgic and sad. It was all prompted by a visit to the dentist. I realized at the end of my visit that it would be my last time at that office, and all the dentists and assistants (all 15 of them) came by to give me huge and to shake my hand (yes, I found it unusually sentimental). These were the first people I was wishing farewell, but it has started a clock ticking in my head. I wish I could shake this feeling of losing time, of imminent partings; it's so difficult to think straight under such pressure. Perhaps I can slow things down, and so for the next month that remains of my Seattle days, I want to document some of my favorite Seattle places, features, and people.
I'm both thrilled and heavyhearted to be finally visit this library. Thrilled because after just an hour or two here, I'm certain it's the coolest library I've ever visited. Heavyhearted because I'll only be able to use it for such a short period of time.
The architecture, a collaboration between Koolhaas and local firm LMN (responsible for Benaroya Hall and McCaw Hall) and Rem Koolhaas's OMA, is spectacular and overshadows the books themselves (see pages from OMA/LMN's original concept book). The glass and steel exterior lends a spectacular openness to the space and offers wonderful views of the surrounding buildings. Though it's the newest building on its block, it plays better with its neighboring structures than those structures play with it. 994,000 pieces of glass and 3,000 tons of steel died in the making of this facility. Each diamond-shaped piece of glass contains metallic mesh that filters the amount of sunlight entering the building so it doesn't overheat, and much of the building is made of recyclable materials. The library is already in line to receive the LEED (Leadrship in Energy and Environmental Design) award given by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
The library is the talk of the architectural world, and it's already a huge hit with Seattelites. A line was waiting outside both entrances this morning before it opened at 10am. I've already seen dozens of tours of adults and school children pass through. The youngsters scamper about the place as if it were a museum, and if it does nothing else but prompt people to visit this place of reading and research, it will have been a success. Certainly I never felt the urge to pay for parking just to visit the previous Central Library.
My only criticism is that most of the books I came to check out were already gone or put on hold by dozens of other people. I wrote down over twenty books I wanted to find but only located two of them. remains a beautiful thing. The books here don't seem as central to the space as they are in your average Barnes and Noble or Borders superstore, but the Koolhaas is far more interesting space. It seems like a space that wouldn't seem outdated fifty years into the future.
Since I moved to Seattle, the city has added Benaroya Hall (finest acoustic performance space I've ever experienced), the Experience Music Project by Gehry, McCaw Hall, Pacific Place Mall (a terrible layout for a mall, but contains the most affordable and city-friendly parking garage), a renovated Cinerama (an awesome movie theater with terrible seats but sweet bathrooms in which nearly everything is automated), and Safeco Field. It was an architectural renaissance. The city skyline still lacks a defined character, but each of those facilities was a memorable and worthwhile addition.
For once, I'm wishing for rain on a gorgeous, sunny day. I'd love to listen to the rain tickling this library's skin.