Suzzallo Library opened in 1926. It was championed by the University of Washington's president Henry Suzzallo, who was dismissed before the library was completed. Following Suzzallo's death in 1933, the University named the library after him.

Suzzallo Library opened in 1926. It was championed by the University of Washington’s president Henry Suzzallo, who was dismissed before the library was completed. Following Suzzallo’s death in 1933, the University named the library after him.

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I was surprised when the Seattle Urban Sketchers announced they would be visiting Suzzallo Library for their next meeting. I had visited the library on the University of Washington’s campus last October to sketch the building’s monumental reading room. Fortunately, the University of Washington’s campus always has something new to discover.

Tucked behind Suzzallo is Allen Library. The Allen Library opened in 1990 and was named in honor of Kenneth Allen, the University of Washington’s Associate Director of Libraries. Allen is connected to Suzzallo via a sky bridge and forms a library complex housing the main body of the University’s book collection.

Tomistoma machikanense is torn between eating the students above or below.

Tomistoma machikanense is torn between eating the students above or below.

If you take the time to walk through Suzzallo to Allen, you will find yourself greeted by the skeleton of Tomistoma machikanense. The 28-foot crocodile skeleton is a cast of a fossil held by the University of Washington’s Burke Museum. The skeleton appears to be walking up the lobby’s wall or waiting to drop on undergraduates as they pass beneath the monster.

Across the breezeway from the Allen Lobby, the Lower Suzzallo Lobby features a fun art installation called “Raven Brings Light to this House of Stories.” A flock of raven sculptures hangs over the lobby. Each raven holds a symbol or letter in their beak, symbolizing Raven bring light and knowledge to the world in Native American myth. The great part of this installation is the way it spreads into the surrounding book stacks. Ravens perch on shelves, watching patrons, while lost letters float over the stacks.

Stone work in the Suzzallo Main Lobby

Stonework in the Suzzallo Main Lobby

Suzzallo is also filled with a wonderful collection of reliefs and sculptures. The library facade is decorated with sculptures of major thinkers, including Moses, Isaac Newton and Benjamin Franklin. Inside, the library is decorated with intricate filigree and stone relief patterns. The interior is also note worthy for featuring reliefs of native flora and fauna.

More sculptures and reliefs are on many of the University of Washington’s buildings. Explorers and thinkers are common as are fictional characters who convey knowledge. I particularly liked a relief of the Native American Raven after visiting the Suzzallo art installation.

If you have time, and want to escape from Downtown Seattle, the University of Washington’s campus offers a wonderland of science and culture. Whether it is a recreation of a gothic cathedral, prehistoric monsters, or Native American myths, the University of Washington’s campus always has a surprise or novelty waiting for its guests.

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Stonework in the Suzzallo Main Lobby

Stonework in the Suzzallo Main Lobby