Seattle Tower

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

The Seattle Tower is an Art-deco skyscraper designed by Albertson, Wilson & Richardson and built between 1927 and 1928, for a reported $1.50 million dollars, in Seattle, WA.

Seattle Tower is not the only name you might know this building by though. The building is, or has also been known as Northern Life Tower.

Its precise street address is 1218 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA. You can also find it on the map here.

The Seattle Tower 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 Seattle Tower was officially declared as a national landmark on December 18th 1974, and was included in the National Register of Historic Places on March 31st 1975.

The building has been restored 3 times over the years to ensure its conservation and adaptation to the pass of time. The main restoration works happened in 1999, 2017 and 2021.

Building's timeline

Construction begins
Construction completed
Declared NL
Added to the NRHP
years ago
  1. 1998 to 1999 - General restorration. The architect in charge was Architectural Alliance.
  2. 2013 to 2017 - Non-structural improvements were carried out.
  3. 2020 to 2021 - Non-structural improvements .

Architect and team

Albertson, Wilson & Richardson was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design. But there was also one other architect involved, as far as we know. We are talking about Webster & Stevens.

Albertson, Wilson & Richardson and the other architects already mentioned were 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 Seattle Tower a reality:

  • Hall & Stevenson in charge of Structural Engineering
  • Sound Construction & Engineering Company as the Main Contractor
  • Northern Life Insurance Company as the Main Developer

Architectural Style

The Seattle Tower 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 Seattle Tower was completed in 1928, right when the Art Deco movement was at its peak, so it kind of went with the trend at that time.

Spaces & Uses

The Seattle Tower reaches an architectural height of 318ft (97m), 367ft (112m) if you count the antenna. It has a total of 27 floors, served by 5 elevators

The building sits on a 216,570 sqf (20,120m2) lot.It has a built-up area of 216,570 sqf (20,120m2) offering 169,887 sqf (15,783m2) of usable space.

In regards to parking space, the building has a total of 50 spots available, which roughly equals 2 spots per floor (above ground), or one parking spot per every 3,401 sqf (316m2) of usable space.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1928, the Seattle Tower has mainly been used as Commercial space.

367ft (112m)
318ft (97m)

Materials & Structure

The Seattle Tower uses a frame structure made of steel columns and concrete slabs.

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.

The facade is non-load bearing either, as it is common in frame structure type buildings.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features 33 different shades of brick set in a gradient pattern, insinuating crags and cliffs. The culmination of the pillars at the crown is finished with light terracotta and metal rods. The windows, and it's spandrels with brick patters, are set back to creat vertical piers than emphasize its height of the building.

Other materials found at the Seattle Tower include, Alaska marble, wich gives the dark toned, veined finishing to the cladding of the lobby's walls, and is also found on the floors and bathrooms, and bronze, used for decorations, elevator doors and a relief map on one of the walls.