03 April 2009

Seattle Scrapes the Sky

Seattle rises steeply from its bay to a number of hills, with mountains in the distance. The downtown infrastructure mirrors that verticality, with tall elevated highway exits, the overhead monorail, and some impressive skyscrapers.

More than any other American city I've seen, Seattle shares London's approach to building such skyscrapers: Why put up a building if you can't make it distinct? I suspect that with the Space Needle poking into the sky nearby, architects know that nothing they designed could become the city's goofiest folly. Not the Seattle Public Library, not the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Hall of Fame, not the Congregational church next to my hotel.

The office buildings and hotels also seem to have a large number of awnings and overhangs, the better to stand beneath in the rain while waiting for a WALK sign to appear.
The IBM Building provides one of those overhangs. Indeed, the whole twenty-story building appears to perch on the spidery legs of its ground-level arcade.

But obviously folks in Seattle didn't think that building looked precarious enough. So thirteen years later the same architectural firm created the forty-story Rainier Tower.

1 comment:

Chaucerian said...

These alarming photos will be a factor as I consider my travel plans. Eek, and thank you.