From the Space Needle and Pike Place Market to the Smith Tower and Suzzallo Library, Seattle is a city defined by its iconic buildings. In the image-rich new edition of Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects, editor Jeffrey Karl Ochsner and volume contributors bring to life the city’s fascinating built environment and the architects who worked to create it. Here we provide a sampling of what the book has to offer through ten photographic glimpses into the city’s rich architectural landscape.
Learn more about Seattle’s architectural history and celebrate the publication of the updated edition of Shaping Seattle Architecture at two upcoming events:
Book signing, reading, and reception with Jeffery Karl Ochsner
at Peter Miller Books, August 6 at 6:00 p.m.
Jeffrey Karl Ochsner in conversation with Feliks Banel
at Town Hall Seattle, September 29 at 7:30 p.m.
1. Alaska Building
Alaska Building, built 1903–4, designed by Eames & Young with Saunders & Lawton (superintending). The first of the city’s steel-frame high-rise office buildings rose fourteen stories to tower over surrounding construction.
2. Smith Tower
Smith Tower, built 1910–14 and designed by Gaggin & Gaggin. The steel framing for the Smith Tower was topped out in February 1913, and installation of the terra-cotta began immediately thereafter. When completed, this structure was one of the five tallest buildings in the world.
3. Fire Station No. 18
Fire Station No. 18, built 1910—11 and designed by Bebb & Mendel. Of the many diverse civic structures designed by architects Bebb & Mendel, this fire station in Ballard is one of the very few that remain. Its stepped brick gables give it a medieval German quality. The building was restored by Historic Seattle and now houses offices and the Hi-Life restaurant.
4. Triangle Hotel
Triangle Hotel, 1909–10, designed by C. Alfred Breitung. The masonry second and third floors, with projecting bays, are perched on a remarkably narrow iron-fronted ground floor. The building now houses the Triangle Hotel and Bar.
5. Odd Fellows Temple
Odd Fellows Temple, built 1908–10 and designed by C. Alfred Breitung. The brown bick and terra-cotta facades, which recall both the Good Shepherd Center and Holy Names Academy, enclose a complicated series of meeting rooms, apartments, offices, and retail spaces. The building is now home to Seattle favorites like Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream and Oddfellows Cafe & Bar.
6. Seattle Asian Art Museum
Seattle Asian Art Museum (originally the Seattle Art Museum, built 1931–33 and designed by Bebb & Gould. As the first museum in the United States in a Moderne style, this structure received nationwide acclaim. The severity of the design and the blazing light-colored stoned have softened with time. For concept, scale, and mastery of materials, the interior garden court must be counted among Gould’s finest spaces.
7. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (originally the Congregation Bikur Cholim Synagogue), built 1909–11, 1912–15 (remodeled 1968, 1981) and designed by Thompson & Thompson (initial design) with B. Marcus Priteca (completion). Construction on the synagogue began in 1909, and the daylight basement was completed by late 1910 to Thompson & Thompson’s design. After Priteca decided in 1912 to maintain his office permanently in Seattle, the commission was transferred to him. The entrance stairway was reconfigured and interior detailing was completed under his direction.
8. Olympic Tower
Olympic Tower (originally United Shopping Tower), built 1928–31 (altered), Henry Bittman. This refined Art Deco office tower set back from a base of street-front shops features Chicago-style windows and strong vertical lines.
9. Frye Art Museum Courtyard
Frye Art Museum Courtyard, built 1994–97 by Richard Haag Associates, with Olson Sunberg, architects. Thirty-eight years after his first interior courtyard, Haag revisited the concept of internal spaces with his design for this intimate landscape. The size of the spherical concrete form doused in moss is surprising at first. Much like the rock gardens of Ryonji, a temple near Kyoto, Haag positioned the sphere and grasses to form an island within the ocean represented by concrete pavers.
10. Hat ‘n’ Boots
Hat ‘n’ Boots, designed by Lewis Naysmith with permit drawings by Albert Poe. Opened in 1954 as a Premium Tex service station, these buildings housed retail space under the hat and rest rooms in the boots. Subsequent association with Texaco could not save this station from closing around 1988. After standing empty for more than a decade, the station received designation as a Seattle Landmark in 2002, and the buildings were preserved through relocation to nearby Oxbow Park the next year.