Exchange Building

Exchange Building
  1. About the Exchange Building in Seattle
    1. Building Catalogations
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectureal style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The Exchange Building is an Art-deco skyscraper designed by John Graham & Associates and built between 1929 and 1930 in Seattle, WA.

Exchange Building is not the only name you might know this building by though. The building is, or has also been known as United Exchange Building.

Its precise street address is 821 Second Avenue, Seattle, WA. You can also find it on the map here.

The Exchange Building is a structure of significant importance both for the city of Seattle and the United States as a nation. The building embodies the distinctive characteristic features of the time in which it was built and the Art Deco style. Because of that, the Exchange Building was officially declared as a national landmark on April 20th 1990.

The building has been restored 2 times over the years to ensure its conservation and adaptation to the pass of time. The main restoration works happened in 2000 and 2013.

Building's timeline

Construction begins
Construction completed
Declared NL
years ago
  1. 1999 to 2000 - Restoration and modernization.
  2. 2013 - Restoration and improvement of both the interior and exterior.

Architect and team

John Graham & Associates was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

John Graham & Associates was in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline, which usually involves many professionals from different fields, without whom this building would have not been possible. We will surely be leaving out a lot of names here, but here is a list of the people we do know also played their part in making the Exchange Building a reality:

  • Graham, John and Company in charge of Structural Engineering
  • Turner Construction as the Main Contractor

Architectural Style

The Exchange Building can be categorized as an Art-deco building.

The Art Deco movement flourished during the 1920s and 1930s, with many historians marking the outbreak of World War II as its final decline. Even though a couple of decades might not seem as much, the Art Deco movement had a great impact on architecture, and it's widely represented in many American cities due to the development boom that happened during that time.

Art Deco marked the abandonment of traditional historicism and the embracement of modern living and the age of the machine. In architecture, that meant leaving behind the ornaments of Beux-Arts and Neo-Gothic buildings and instead favoring simplicity and visual impact through geometric shapes, clean lines, and symmetrical designs. Ornaments were still an important part of the design, but they became bold and lavish, and were often inspired by ancient cultures or industrial imagery, instead of nature.

The Exchange Building was completed in 1930, right when the Art Deco movement was at its peak, so it kind of went with the trend at that time.

Spaces & Uses

The Exchange Building reaches an architectural height of 279ft (85m). It has a total of 23 floors, served by 9 elevators, which combined offer a total of 315,372 sqf (29,299m2) of usable space.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1930, the Exchange Building has mainly been used as Commercial space.

279ft (85m)

Materials & Structure

The Exchange Building uses a frame structure made of reinforced concrete columns and beams.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features polished Morton gneiss marble on the base of the building, which then continues on with Romanite Stone in ochre color. Traditional Art Deco motifs are also part of the facade.

Other materials found at the Exchange Building include, dark marble, used on the lobby's walls and pilasters , bronze, seen in ornamental details throughout the lobby, letter boxes and elevators cast grilles, stained glass, used in tow, fan-shaped windows over the main door, and carved wood , found in telephone booths.