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Who knew so many people were interested in architecture? The selection process for an architect to design the downtown library drew hundreds of interested observers to a series of public events last week. Monday morning, over a hundred people watched proceedings on a small TV monitor outside the filled-to-capacity 500-plus-seat recital space at Benaroya Hall, where Steven Holl, Rem Koolhaas of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, and Robert Frasca of ZGF discussed their past work. On Wednesday, in a large ballroom at the downtown Sheraton, hundreds more watched as Frasca catapulted ZGF out of favor with a too-finished, unimaginative plan for the library, which resembled a snail in section. Holl excited some with his tentative ideas, which included complexly filtered natural light, a broad, open ground floor with views through to the water, and gardens designed to look beautiful on rainy days. Rem Koolhaas' presentation poked fun at the kind of "signature building" Holl is known for, while presenting his firm's inventive concepts as more utilitarian than artistic.
The advisory panel, charged with recommending one firm to the library board, deadlocked between Holl and Koolhaas. They've asked the board to visit buildings by both architects and to talk to the firms' previous clients before making a decision. That decision is expected to come in late May.
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Just about every fringe theater group in town is vying to take over the city-owned Bathhouse Theater on Green Lake, which has been dark since the board of its debt-riddled resident theater company pulled the plug on the company last year. Arne Zaslove, former artistic director of the Bathhouse, apparently wants another go in the space, but wouldn't comment further, citing the company's ongoing bankruptcy proceedings.
Though Zaslove may want back in, other, better-organized groups of small theater companies definitely do too. The most compelling contender, using the working name Artery, is made up of people from Theater Simple, One World Theater, and Ursa Major, among others. Their plan is to organize their groups as a co-op, sharing some business staff and a mailing list, and mounting shows at the Bathhouse year-round.