Several years ago, while the new Seattle Public Library was still in the design stage, I wrote an article about it for the Seattle Times.
(The editors gave me the entire front page of the "Op-Ed" section; now I notice that the article has been entirely removed from the Times archives. These days I cannot imagine that they would even print my letter, so giddy are they, like so many Seattleites, about our latest attempt to be a big city.)
While writing the article I spent a lot of time thinking about the design and "walking around the building" in my mind and so for the last 3-4 years I have felt that I had already been there.
My focus in the article was on the building as a piece of urbanism --- not as a piece of architecture. (And for what it is worth, "architecture" slightly bores me; I am not what one would call an "architecture buff" standing in front of some famous work in awe of the genius of its designer: I like cities, not Very Large Scale Sculpture.) I analyzed the Koolhaas proposal in terms of The Three Rules of Urban Design. I found his Koolhaas work wanting and an unsuccessful design.
Here is the article:
The article's title was provided by the newspaper; I would have preferred something more to the point such as "Take it to the Edge, Mr. Koolhaas"...the idea being that Koolhaas is seen as such a cutting-edge, progressive, "innovative" architect but his design is really so suburban, hackneyed, conventional, unimaginative in the way it turns away from the sidewalk.
My conclusion as to the physical facts (i.e. was I reading the plans and model correctly?) were confirmed as accurate by a representative of the City Librarian.
I haven't been back to see the building yet; I wonder if my article had any impact on the design (I doubt it) and/or if my prognostication was even remotely accurate about the building's indifference to the pedestrian. I'll take a look in due course.
Btw, just to be super-clear --- I had no comment then (much less now) about the quality of the building's interior. It might be marvelous; it might be junk. I had & have no opinion.
My personal opinion of the piece as a Very Large Scale Sculpture is also irrelevant. I am mostly indifferent to it. "Eh" is my esential reaction, though I also find it showy and pretentious and striving, not to my taste. But the whole point of my article is that even so, had the architect paid attention to the way the building met the sidewalk, the design could have been a positive one.