Hard to believe that the Experience Music Project has been with us for 10 years now, but the Seattle Times assures us that really is the case. And points out that it’s still as controversial now as it was when it first appeared in 2000. I thought I’d have to take their word for that. It’s not something that comes up in conversation much these days. But the 70 comments on the online version suggest that it’s still an issue for some folks.
Personally I’ve never really embraced EMP. Part of that is the location. Seattle Center is not somewhere I have much call to visit, and it’s difficult to get a decent street view of the building. And part of it is the building itself, which resists easy viewing from any angle. It is hard, however, not to view the EMP building as a missed opportunity. At the time it seemed such a shame that the one contemporary building in Seattle designed by an internationally acclaimed architect looked like, well, like that (and like this).
A missed opportunity for sure, but EMP is more for the tourists than anybody else. It’s part of the theme park version of the city, along with the Monorail and the Space Needle, Ride the Ducks and the flying fish at Pike Place Market. In that context, who’s to say it doesn’t succeed. And those of us who actually live here now have another building designed by an internationally acclaimed architect—the Seattle Public Library—which, in contrast to EMP, met with widespread approval from the start. And doesn’t have exorbitant entrance fees.
The Seattle Times article concludes with a quote from the chairman of the UW Department of Architecture who says that “Seattle needs a few buildings like that, just not too many.” I say how about just one. Now that we have it anyway.