Magnolia Branch Library

Continuing my series of drawings of Seattle Public Branch Libraries, this is the Magnolia Branch, designed by Paul Hayden Kirk of Kirk, Wallace, McKinley and Associates. Opening in 1964, it is located just outside the Magnolia Village business district. The American Library Association granted its Award of Excellence to the open timber structure, which incorporated an old madrona tree that grew on the site.

The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board declared the Magnolia Branch a landmark building in 2001, after which the library and community developed plans to upgrade the existing structure while preserving its original design. SHKS Architects and the structural engineering firm of Swenson Say Fagét designed the 1400-square-foot addition, which housed a new meeting room and incorporated a new roof, upgraded mechanical systems, improved computer technology, and energy-efficient windows. The branch reopened on July 12, 2008.

In 2009, the library project’s team was given the Stewardship of Public Buildings award for “creating a model preservation project that incorporated both the restoration of a mid-century resource and the construction of a sensitive new addition that will allow the building to function as a library for years to come. In 2011, the expansion and renovation received further recognition with an honor award from the Washington Council of the AIA.

Streatery

This view of El Camino, a Fremont neighborhood eatery, illustrates how Seattle, like many other cities, is allowing restaurants to temporarily expand their outdoor seating into public sidewalks and street parking spaces. This move to help restaurants survive during the COVID-19 pandemic is often augmented by streamlining the permitting process and waiving fees. There is some sentiment to try to preserve these new neighborhood streetscapes even after the pandemic is over.

Vantage Points

Above, the Lenin statue in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle is seen from behind to reveal its placement on the edge of a triangular open space. Below it, a close-up view focuses on the statue itself, devoid of context. These sketches illustrate how, once a subject has been chosen, selecting a vantage point from which to view the subject influences the final outcome.

At times, it may be convenient, and more comfortable, to pick out a shady place to sit or stand. Other times, certain aspects of the subject might determine the desired angle of view.

One may prefer a close-up, or to include more context, moving further back for a broader view. To focus on the symmetry of a space, we might position ourselves for a straight-on view, or to emphasize the three-dimensionality of the subject, we might select an oblique view

It usually time well spent to walk around a subject to select the best vantage point before touching pen or pencil to paper.

Analog Dials & Digital Tuning

I remember a time when radios had an analog dial for tuning. To tune to a certain station, we had to turn a knob to align a moving hand with the desired frequency on a linear or circular dial. We had to rotate the knob back and forth and listen as the signal would get louder the closer we got to the desired station’s frequency, then get softer as we went past that point, and then back again to when the signal was loudest. The goal was to hone in gradually on that sweet spot where the signal was clearest and strongest.

Today, of course, with digital tuners, we simply have to scan and look at digital readouts. If a station has a frequency of 98.1, you merely dial that number in. Boom. Done.

I think of this comparison of analog dials and digital tuners as a way of contrasting the precision of digital vector graphics with the suggestive power of a hand drawing, which requires a tactile feel along with a lot of judgment about how what we draw matches up with what we actually see. if you look closely at the drawing of the Seattle Central Library above, you will see the multiple attempts I made to get the proportions of the Rem Koolhaas/OMA-designed building right. Each attempt was a turn of the virtual tuning knob until I reached the desired frequency.

An Appeal

I accidentally deleted an email sent to me, I believe, from Augsburg. The sender was inquiring about a spherical perspective similar to the one shown above that I drew of Athens, Ohio, in 1976. The daughter, an art student, might be following this blog, and if so, I hope she will ask the sender to resend the email l so that I can respond properly. Thank you!

Duluth, Minnesota

Traveled recently to Duluth, Minnesota, for the 32nd Lake Superior Design Retreat, sponsored by AIA Minnesota. Enjoyed hearing from a great slate of speakers who were not architects but rather designers in other realms, such as a restaurateur, blacksmith, game designer, and digital fabricator. During a break on the first day there, I wandered outside the Fitger’s Inn, where the retreat was being held, to sketch this view. It was really cold! While the air temperature was 25°, the “real feel” was 11°, but I managed to last about 20 minutes before heading back inside to the warmth of the Barrel Room, seen below.

The Old Grist Mill

The Old Grist Mill in Sudbury, Massachusetts, was designed by Philadelphia hydraulic engineer J.B. Campbell and built under the direction of former property owner Henry Ford. Work on the mill began in 1924 and ground its first “grist” on Thanksgiving day, 1929. The mill is part of the site of the Wayside Inn, the oldest operating Inn in the country. The water-powered mill uses two separate grinding stones to produce the corn meal and wheat flour that is used in the Wayside Inn’s baked goods.

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su is a walled Chinese garden that occupies an entire city block in Portland, Oregon. Designed by Kuang Zhen, it was completed in 1999–2000 by Chinese artisans from Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, using traditional materials and techniques.

The name Lan Su is taken from parts of the names of the sister cities of Portland and Suzhou. The name itself can be interpreted as the Garden of Awakening Orchids.

The view above focuses on the Moon Locking Pavilion, whose name refers to when the reflection of the moon can be seen in the center of the lake, locked in or framed by the shadow of the pavilion. To the left, in the background, is the Painted Boat in Misty Rain pavilion, representing the friendship that sailed from Suzhou and docked in Portland.

Lake Anne Plaza

During the summer of 1973, between my first and second years teaching at Ohio University, I worked in Silver Springs, Maryland. Taking the opportunity to tour the D.C. metropolitan area, I visited Reston, Virginia, where I sketched this view of Lake Anne Plaza. I was using a No. 2 pencil at the time, being influenced by Ted Kautzky’s book, Pencil Broadsides.

Lake Anne Plaza was the first of several village centers that formed part of Reston’s town plan designed by James Rossant and William J. Conklin. This particular hub clustered a mix of shops, townhouses, and apartments around the end of an artificial lake. Inspired by the Garden City movement, the plan for Reston accommodated moderately dense development while preserving open space, natural landscapes, and wildlife habitats.

Lake Anne Village Center received quite a bit of national publicity and critical acclaim when it opened in 1964. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2017 and remains the historic “heart and soul” of Reston, Virginia.

Asian Art Museum: Addendum

The Asian Art Museum closed in 2017 to allow for a major renovation and expansion designed by LMN Architects to occur. This drawing shows the new wing added to the rear of the original structure that will house a new gallery, education studio, conservation center, and community meeting room. With more exhibition space, the museum will now organize artwork by themes that link cultures, histories, and belief systems to convey the diversity and complexity of Asia, the world’s largest continent.

The rebirthed Asian Art Museum will open to the public on the weekend of February 8 and 9, 2020.