Custom Library Book Shelving for Seattle’s Landmark Central library

Seattle’s central library, principally designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Ramus from OMA in a joint venture with LMN Architects of Seattle, has been the focus of national attention. The 362,987-square-foot, state-of-the-art 11-story facility houses 1.4 million volumes of books.

“As in any library, the central focus is the books and the shelving that they sit on,” said Pragnesh Parikh of LMN Architects, the local managing architect. “We wanted to create a unique experience for the visitor with the foremost feature of the building being the public spiral book stack, which is one continuous ramp.”

Library administrators and the design team chose Spacesaver to provide the mobile shelving systems, as well as the unique stationary spiral stacks that wind their way up six floors of the library. The use of light was a critical factor in every aspect of the library’s design. From the exterior maze of windows that wraps the entire building, to the interior 11-floor atrium and polycarbonate ceiling that help to distribute light, to the glass walls that divide the sides of the spiral stacks, every detail was considered in maximizing the natural light.

In keeping with this principal design concept, the design team didn’t want the book stacks to create a visual barrier, so they chose a translucent acrylic material for the top and end panels of the shelving. Engineers at Spacesaver tested different acrylic materials for scratch resistance, durability and strength. The company also sourced unique stainless steel pins that were used to off-set the panels from the shelving frames and designed special lighting brackets for a custom overhead lighting solution.

“Developing the acrylic panels was a challenge,” said Parikh. “Spacesaver stood behind us with engineering support to achieve our goals.”

To learn more about the variety of library book shelving solutions used throughout this landmark institution, download the case study!