Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Suzzallo Library: A Case Study of Collegiate Gothic Architecture

Suzzallo Library window The Suzzallo Library is the central library of the University of Washington in Seattle, and perhaps the most recognizable building on campus. It is named for Henry Suzzallo, who was president of the University of Washington until he stepped down in 1926, the same year the first phase of the library's construction was completed. The library is open to the general public and is a great place to explore.

The library was built in the Collegiate Gothic style, which was part of the Gothic Revival architectural movement, hugely popular in the United States. Interestingly, the number of Gothic Revival structures built in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries exceeds the number of authentic Gothic structures that had been built during the Middle Ages.

The following image shows the Suzallo Library at the eastern end of Central Plaza, better known as Red Square:

Suzzallo Library in Red Square

Graduate Reading Room
Suzzallo Library grand staircase A climb up the grand marble staircase takes you to the third floor, where you can find the Graduate Reading Room. This room takes up the entire third floor of this section of the library. It is 250 feet in length and 65 feet in height, with Tudor style arches spanning the sides. Lighting is provided by 22 chandeliers and 36 foot high stained glass windows. Cork floors muffle the sound of footsteps. Oak bookcases are topped with hand-carved friezes, representing native flora of Washington State. This is a delightful place to sit for a while.

Suzzallo Library Graduate Reading RoomThe Graduate Reading Room’s distinctive look, reminiscent of the great halls of Oxford and Cambridge colleges, is said to have been inspired by Henry Suzzallo's belief that universities should be "cathedrals of learning."

Visiting the Library
Suzzallo Library The Suzzallo & Allen Libraries Home page provides info on the libraries hours, current exhibits, and tour info. You can also find info on the history and architecture of the library.

Redmond Library Board

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