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May 12, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Seattle’s most polarizing pieces of contemporary architecture

Seattle’s most extreme example of contemporary architecture, the Central Library, turns 10 this month.  (Learn more by reading Erik Lacitis’ anniversary story and perusing Mary Ann Gwinn’s list of related events.)

Tourists love the library; locals love to argue about it. In that contentious spirit, here’s a list of the five most hotly debated, 21st-century buildings in Seattle and Bellevue.

1 The Central Library

Designed by Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus of OMA/LMN, 2004; 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle.

It's a rare library that wears fishnets. Photo  courtesy of Seattle Public Library.

What other city has a library that wears fishnets? Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Library.

Love: Exalted public spaces that turn commoners to kings, such as the Betty Jane Narver reading room. Hate: The desolate Fourth Avenue entrance

2 EMP Museum

Frank Gehry, 2000; 325 Fifth Ave. N., Seattle.

In the words of Jimi Hendrix, "Craziness is like heaven." Photo by Alan Berner/The Seattle Times.

In the words of Jimi Hendrix, “Craziness is like heaven.” Photo by Alan Berner/The Seattle Times.

Love: The monorail that pierces the globular facade like an arrow through a twisted heart. Hate: The tomblike interior.

3 The Gates Foundation

NBBJ, 2011; 440 Fifth Ave. N., Seattle.

Nice chairs. Too bad you can't sit in them. Photo by Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times.

Nice chairs. Too bad you can’t sit in them. Photo by Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times.

Love: An attractive patio-and-pond plaza that anchors the campus. Hate: The fact that so much of the Gates Foundation compound is closed to the public.

4 Bellevue Arts Museum

Steven Holl, 2001; 510 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue.

Bellevue Arts Museum -- at least it escaped the mall. Photo by Jimi Lott/The Seattle Times.

Bellevue Arts Museum — at least it escaped the mall. Photo by Jimi Lott/The Seattle Times.

Love: A sweeping staircase on the main floor that builds anticipation as you approach the galleries. Hate: Dull, white-box galleries that have none of the charm of architect Steven Holl’s best interiors (see the Chapel of St. Ignatius, at Seattle University).

5 Seattle City Hall

Peter Bohlin (Bohlin Cywinski Jackson) and Bassetti Architects, 2003; 600 Fourth Ave., Seattle.

Seattle City Hall steps into the 21st century. Photo by Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times.

Seattle City Hall steps into the 21st century. Photo by Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times.

Love: Cascading indoor and outdoor spaces that invite passers-by to pause and gather. Hate: Cluttered detailing.

Comments | More in List | Topics: Bellevue Arts Museum, Central Library, EMP Museum

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