Soul of the Garden

Images of the Seattle - Architecture


The Seattle skyline as seen from the Bainbridge Island Ferry.


Seattle is one of America's great "destination" cities and is a wonderful place to visit once the winter gloom lifts. Although the population of the city of Austin is actually larger than that of the city of Seattle, Seattle sits at the center of a metropolitan area of more than twice the population of the Austin metro area and its downtown really projects "big city." The spirit of the two cities is  very similar - the people of both places are very friendly and proud of their local culture and traditions. I love the topography of Seattle, which rests on a narrow bridge of land surrounded by lakes and America's "inland sea" - Puget Sound. The city is ringed by different mountain ranges which provide a stunning back drop on clear days. In recent years, Seattle has built many landmark pieces of architecture, and on this trip I devoted a good amount of  my time to touring these spaces. The images below capture some of the highlights of that tour.


The best way to take in the skyline is from the water on one of the commuter ferries. Bring along some bread scraps for the seagulls!


Looking for handouts.


The skyline as seen from Bainbridge Island across Puget Sound from the city.


A mosaic of facades.


The "Waterfall Park" in the Pioneer Square District. I loved this space which evokes New York's even more elegant Paley Park.


This is the interior processional space of the Seattle Art Museum. This part of the museum was designed by Robert Venturi, who I interviewed on several occasions when he was hired to design a museum for downtown Austin in the 1980's. The Austin building was never built, but part of it lives on in this structure which shares many of the traits of his proposed Austin building.


This is the "Experience" Museum designed by the most famous practicing architect in the world, Frank Gehry, whose museum in Bilbao, Spain, and Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles are two of the most celebrated structures of the last twenty years. I have to say I did not like this building at all - though its curved "skin" of metal plating was fun to photograph. It is a bit more of a jumble than the buildings in Bilbao and Los Angeles and doesn't have the same sense of cohesiveness that they do.


The Space Needle rising over the "Experience."


Seattle's famous monorail actually runs through the Experience complex. Here, it looks like it is about to be engulfed in a metal wave.


Detail of the metal skin.


This is the Central Library designed by Rem Koolhaas. Another very flashy piece of civic architecture. I liked this much more than the Gehry building, and found the great interior hall to be quite inspiring. However, from the outside, the overall impact was of a very cold - yet bold piece of sculpture, not particularly welcoming.


Detail of exterior - very impressive engineering.


The walk way on the east side of the building was fun to photograph.


Reflection of the walkway.


Ascending the interior escaltor to the great reading room.


The reading room.


More engineering detail.


This is a shot of the interior of the Episcopal Cathedral where my friend, Greg Rickle is now the Bishop.



 The chapel of St. Ignatius is located on the campus of Seattle University. Designed by New York architect, Steven Holl, the chapel looks quite modest on the outside, but the interior is an amazing celebration of light, color, and form. Holl chose "a gathering of different lights" as the organizing principle for the chapel calling the space "seven bottles of light in a stone box." I don't think I have ever seen a more masterful orchestration of light. It was serene, uplifting, and well worth the hike across town. I have wanted to see this building since it was dedicated in 1997 and I was not disappointed. My photographs do not do it justice but I feel compelled to share them. I hope you enjoy them.


Wide shot of the worship space.


The entry hall.


A visitor enjoying the quiet space of the entry hall .


Shadow on the textured walls.


Light spilling into a small side chapel.


The reflected glow of light from one of the "bottles."


Another wide view.


The view looking straight up into one of the "bottles." The wall on the left is the wall behind the altar pictured above. The yellow color is bounced off of the back of the wall and into the chapel.


A Statue backed by an opaque window.


Anointing oils.


Reflection in the Baptismal fount.


Etched glass window.


The exterior looking over a reflecting pool.


Detail of one of the "bottles of light."


The side facade.

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