The Los Angeles Times dispatched two critics to appraise the new Seattle Art Museum, opening to the public this weekend, and each gives generally positive reviews of the architecture and the art, making some fine-grained observations. The first comes from Christopher Knight, who finds the new museum to be "nicely proportioned" and a relief after the "horrible" 1991 SAM building it adjoins. Knight finds several works of art to his liking, particularly the witty portrait by John Singleton Copley, one of the main new acquisitions. He explains that SAM is far from a traditional museum, with a European center of gravity, but finds real treasures in the new American art and its skillful display (always a strength at SAM). Turning to the Sculpture Park, which awaits more sculpture and more mature plantings, he says, he calls "Eagle" the "best-sited Calder" he's ever seen. The second assessment is by Christopher Hawthorne, and it contains a more-detailed, if rather cool, description of the new SAM's architecture by the Portland architect Brad Cloepfil. Hawthorne starts by dispensing with the party line that the new SAM is all about showing off art, not the architect, finding "plenty of ego" in the architecture, if "coolly restrained." He compares the new SAM with an obvious model, the new Museum of Modern Art in New York, noting how "upright and largely corporate" both feel. This critic thinks SAM relates more to the Washington Mutual bank tower than to the Venturi wing. While admiring the "well-balanced geometry" of SAM's exhibit spaces, and fully aware of how dated the stage-set post modernism of Venturi has become, Hawthorne ends by missing the sense of humor and feeling for decoration that Venturi put forth. Update: Vancouver critic Trevor Boddy weighs in with a fairly harsh appraisal of Cloepfil's new SAM in The Seattle Times, finding the large public spaces "hospital-like," more of "a hulking leftover" than a space with compelling details or texture. Boddy likes "the beguilingly simple and effective rooms for showing art" and the seamless connections with the Venturi wing. He notes that the steel shutters that most expected to be automated solar screens to diffuse sunlight as the day changed "actually need to be manually moved, one-by-one, by staff wearing safety harnesses on narrow ledges above the street." A companion review by Sheila Farr tours the collections with acute observations. Farr also has problems with the windows and all the fussy devices to shield viewers from too much direct sunlight.