The Help Desk: Koolhaas's folly

Every Friday, Cienna Madrid offers solutions to life’s most vexing literary problems. Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to

Dear Cienna,

I know you're not a licensed architecture critic, but what do you think of the downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library? I know a lot of people love it, but I guess my tastes are more traditional.

Veronica, The Mixing Chamber (whatever the hell that is)

Dear Veronica,

Even better than being a licensed architecture critic, in some underground circles I am considered a licensed architect. I received my training from Prepperdine University (shortened to Prepper U. in 2018 due to some LITIGIOUS FUCKS who shall not be named). Prepper U. is the nation's premier school for those who believe the end of the world could be as near as next Tuesday. Along with how to make a gas mask out of a bong and pair of used underwear, and how to make filling meals out of human hair, I learned how to draft spacious bunkers that could survive anything from an intimate civil war to a global nuclear attack.

While I specialized in bunkers, not "outies," as Prepper U. architects call them, I feel qualified to critique both.

The Seattle Public Library is a phenomenal work of art, with its natural light, silly winding walkways, and nooks and crannies for reading and snoozing. But as a functional building, it is more worthless than your typical outie. Like you, I suppose my tastes are more traditional. Those windows would never survive a nuclear blast and there are few secure spaces in which to imprison captives.

At best, given any sort of large-scale disaster, that building will make a beautiful dumpster fire.