The Capitol Hill Branch of The Seattle Public Library has:
Note: The after-hours book drop is located directly to the right of the main entrance on Republican, near the stairs.
The Capitol Hill Branch opened May 31, 2003. It is the fourth project completed under the "Libraries for All" (LFA) building program. (See the Capitol Hill Branch Building Fact Sheet for more information.)
The new branch was designed by Johnston Architects and Cutler Architects and built by Summit Central Construction.
The building occupies a transition zone between the hard urban environment of Broadway on Capitol Hill and the densely populated and verdant neighborhood to the west.
It is designed to link these neighborhoods to be a refuge from the high energy of the commercial district and a quiet living room for an active community. Its entry, facing north, reaches out with ramps, stairs and prominent building features as an invitation to both.
The brick for the Capitol Hill Branch was selected to complement neighboring Anhalt Apartments and larger housing blocks. Its texture was carefully designed to provide a monolithic expression that has a human scale.
Brick walls encase public spaces. They are interrupted at the corners by inviting "lanterns" of glass. The brick gives way to a large glass wall at the south, tuned to maximize daylight and minimize glare.
The Capitol Hill Branch is an urban building, but it incorporates a green, living façade. The living façade, designed by artist Iole Alessandrini, consists of a broad range of both evergreen and deciduous vines supported by a stainless steel lattice. The lattice wraps the perimeter of the building, proceeding inside to flank a two-story reading room and to form the entry "prow."
The vertical garden combined with the hard urban shell of the building are symbolic of a balance that is sought between the natural world and our urban environment. The vines soothe the eye, clean the air and help stitch together these disparate aspects of our city.
The unobstructed reading room is the heart of the Capitol Hill Branch. North and south walls of this triangular space are glass. The vertical garden appears to pass through the glass, contributing to the sense of sanctuary. Natural light is filtered through greenery and tuned to the angles of the sun. The sanctuary is capped by a wood and steel triangular roof that seems to float over a new and wonderful reading room for Capitol Hill.
The reading area is named for donor Eulalie Bloedel Schneider. (See Donors to the Capitol Hill Branch: Named Spaces for more information.)
A library deposit station opened at the Mission Pharmacy at 901 19th Ave. E. in 1913. The Great Depression, World War II and a chronic lack of city funds forced the shut down of the service in 1933.
In 1934, the sons of the late Horace C. and Susan J. Henry donated property to The Seattle Public Library with the understanding that a branch would be built there in memory of their mother. Twenty years passed before this building became a reality.
Between 1944 and 1954, residents received limited library service in the basement of Pilgrim Congregational Church, 509 10th Ave. E.
The City Council funded construction of three new branches, including the Susan J. Henry Branch, after library bond failures in 1950 and 1952. The property originally donated for the branch was found to be unsuitable for the library and with permission from the Henry family, it was sold, and the proceeds used to purchase the current site at 425 Harvard Ave. E. Ground was broken in 1953 and the building was completed the next year.
LIBRARIES FOR ALL CAPITAL PROJECTS AND THE CAPITOL HILL BRANCH
In 1998, Seattle voters approved the $196.4 million "Libraries for All" bond measure, which included money to replace the branch with a new and larger building. Construction began in December 2001. The new branch opened May 31, 2003.