Canadian architectural critic Witold Rybczynski explores the architecture of Seattle in this Slate visual essay
 Seattle Library

Seattle is an unusual sort of urban place, where sitting on a log to drink your grande latte seems normal (well, almost normal). Such an environment requires a different architectural response than, say, New York or Chicago. Both recent high-profile projects, the library and the sculpture park, succeed where earlier designs failed. They do so by paying attention to their surroundings and by recognizing the local sense of style, rather than importing their own. Both Koolhaas and Weiss/Manfredi, in different ways, riff on the city’s unusual combination of high-tech smarts, iconoclastic roughness, and a closeness to nature: urbanism and industrial panache and driftwood.

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