Searching for Details

Since my trip to Smith Tower I have given myself an ongoing assignment to search for interesting architectural details on my lunchtime walks downtown. One recent loop brought me south east from the museum, past the Rainier Club, the Seattle Public Library, and the Olympic Fairmont Hotel. I did not go into any into buildings, so I was looking only at external elements.

A lantern hanging on the outside of the Rainier Club. Photograph by Natasha Lewandrowski.

A decorative gutter element on the Rainier Club (to the right of the window just above the plants). Photograph by Natasha Lewandrowski.

At the Rainier Club I was really impressed with the attention to detail that was paid to even the most mundane functional elements. One might expect the decorative treatment around the windows, the wall, and the light fixtures, but even the element holding the gutter in place is considered. This devotion to minutia gives a sense that every part is valuable for its contribution to the whole, and thus worth doing well.

If the Seattle Public Library looks like it was made out of the leftover parts from the skyscrapers around it. It is too angular to feel organic and too asymmetrical to feel orderly. As a whole I think it looks a bit forced; like the guiding principal in its design was that it not be building-like. However the way its angles combine with its reflective surface does make for some interesting visual moments.

Seattle Public Library reflecting the court building across the street. Photograph by Natasha Lewandrowski.

Seattle Public Library. Photograph by Natasha Lewandrowski.

The Olympic Fairmont Hotel has some nice decorative features. I particularly like the Gargoyle flagpoles and the woven metal window grates.

Entrance to the Olympic Fairmont Hotel. Photograph by Natasha Lewandrowski.

A latticework window guard. Photograph by Natasha Lewandrowski.

As I was walking back to the museum I happened to look inside the door of the Purple Cafe and Wine Bar. I was rewarded with this lovely spiral staircase wine shelf. The candelabra hanging in the back is pretty nice too!

Spiral Stair inside the Purple Cafe and Wine Bar. Photograph by Natasha Lewandrowski.


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