Seattle's Famous Architecture Tour (Self Guided), Seattle

Seattle is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Washington. It offers everything from beautiful architecture and amazing religious buildings to unique museums and galleries, spectacular gardens and parks and one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants. Take this walking tour to explore some of the better known architectural beauties of Seattle.
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Seattle's Famous Architecture Tour Map

Guide Name: Seattle's Famous Architecture Tour
Guide Location: USA » Seattle (See other walking tours in Seattle)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Seaboard Building
  • US Bank Centre
  • Rainier Tower
  • Seattle Tower
  • 1201 Third Avenue Building
  • 1001 Fourth Avenue Plaza
  • Seattle Central Library
  • Columbia Center
Seaboard Building

1) Seaboard Building (must see)

The Seaboard Building in Seattle located on Westlake Avenue in the Central Business District is an eleven-floor high rise steel building with a terracotta façade. The 100,000 square foot building has both office and residential spaces.

The first tenant of the Seaboard building when construction was complete in 1909 was the Northern Bank and Trust Company. Today, the first five floors are used by offices while the higher floors have 25 residential condominium units. The building was given City Landmark status in 1989. The design of the construction is in the Art Nouveau, Beaux art style. The highlight of the lobby is its ornate ceiling and moldings. Extensive renovations were carried out to make the interiors modern and suitable to modern tenants. Some of the recent changes to the building include a U shaped light well and addition of a penthouse floor. The top four floors now have luxury condominiums with large windows overlooking the Seattle cityscape. The condominiums also have newly redecorated kitchens with the finest available modern appliances.

The unique architecture of the 100-year-old Seattle Landmark Seaboard Building draws many visitors. The structure is an important location in the city and walking tours around Seattle’s landmarks always bring visitors to view its elegant architectural style.

Why You Should Visit:
Located in downtown, close to Pike Place Market, Belltown and the waterfront, with easy access to the wealth of great urban amenities of Seattle.
US Bank Centre

2) US Bank Centre

US Bank Centre is a 177 m (581 ft) skyscraper in Seattle, Washington. It was constructed from 1987 to 1989 in a Postmodern architectural style and has 44 floors. It is the eighth tallest building in Seattle and was designed by Callison Architecture. The skyscraper's design is stunning with its gigantic vaulted ceilings and artwork. It opened as Pacific First Centre and has 289,000 m2 (3,110,000 sq ft) of office space.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Rainier Tower

3) Rainier Tower

The Rainier Tower in the Metropolitan tract of Seattle at 150 Fifth Avenue towers above an underground shopping mall called the Rainier Park. Both get their name from Rainier Bank that later merged with Security Pacific that later became the Bank of America.

The unique feature of the tower is its shape. The 31 story skyscraper stands on top of an 11 storey pedestal that gives the structure the appearance of an upside down pyramid. The tower stands on 25% of its site at the bottom and the high rise structure stands on a narrow pedestal. The intention was to allow maximum space for retail around the block. Minoru Yamasaki, a Seattle born architect designed the tower and the Pacific Science Center. The building stands on the site of the former White Henry Stuart Building that was a landmark in Seattle till it was torn down to make way for the Rainier Tower.

The unusual design of the building is bound to inspire awe in visitors to Seattle and high rise building enthusiasts. A pedestrian concourse connects Rainier tower with other properties around and shelters visitors during bad weather. The location has a range of well known shops featuring the finest brands of clothing and luxury items and restaurants that offer a variety of delectable fare from an array of cuisines.
Seattle Tower

4) Seattle Tower

Local rock formations inspired the design of this 27 story Seattle skyscraper located in 1218 3rd Avenue. The tower was built by the Northern Life Insurance Company headquartered in Seattle.

The Seattle Tower or Northern Life Tower has a facade with 33 shades of bricks. The brick color lightens from the bottom to the top of the tower. The structure has an art deco style inspired by the Ziggurats of ancient Mesopotamia. The building, completed in 1928, is on the National Register of Historic Places and a designated City Landmark. The Seattle Tower has a height of 96.93 meters. The interiors are clad with marble brought from all over Europe and the US, and pink granite from Texas. The marble lobby has bronze panels depicting local plants and animals. The architects of the Seattle tower were Albertson, Wilson and Richardson. Local construction companies were employed and the structure was erected in one year at a cost of 2 million dollars. In 1967 the tower was sold to Tower Associates and got a new name, the Seattle Tower.

Initially the designers added 300 floodlights that shot different colors of light on the colored bricks. Locals called the lights the northern lights. The lights were dismantled in 1942.

The Seattle Tower will make a memorable destination for visitors and those who are fascinated by the brick and mortar edifices of early skyscrapers.
1201 Third Avenue Building

5) 1201 Third Avenue Building

Formerly known as the Washington Mutual Tower, this Skyscraper located at 1201 3rd Avenue is one of the tallest buildings in Seattle next to the Columbia Center. The structure stands at a height of 231.31 meters and has 55 floors.

The skyscraper at 1201 3rd Avenue was designed by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates and the McKinley Architects. The building stands on the site of the 12 storey Savoy Hotel that was imploded in 1986. The basic style of the Savoy Hotel was used by the architects to design the structure. Construction began in 1986 and the doors of the WMT opened in May 1988. The New York Times described 1201, 3rd Avenue as one of the three best new buildings in the United States.

The sheet metal building has a glass facade with a style that combines a post modern style and the Brooklyn style of the former Seattle Savoy hotel. The Washington Mutual Bank had their offices at 1201 3rd Avenue until they moved to their own, Wa Mu building across the street. The bank failed in 2008 and does not exist anymore. Gearless elevators take workers and visitors up and down the building at a speed of 500 to 1400 feet per minute.

Visitors and skyscraper enthusiasts will find visiting 1201 3rd Avenue worth their while for the sheer brilliance of the building’s design and structure.
Sight description based on wikipedia
1001 Fourth Avenue Plaza

6) 1001 Fourth Avenue Plaza

Safeco Plaza, previously 1001 Fourth Avenue Plaza, and the Seattle-First National Bank Building, is a 50-story, 192 m (630 ft) skyscraper in downtown Seattle, Washington. Locals nicknamed it "The Box the Space Needle Came In". When the tower was completed in 1969, it dwarfed Smith Tower, which had reigned as downtown's tallest building since 1914, and edged out the Space Needle (1962) in Seattle Center by 25 ft (7.6 m). It was the first class-A office building in Seattle. The building's highlights are the two-story high lobby, the spectacular design and architecture, and an amazing Henry Moore sculpture named "Three Piece Sculpture". Safeco Insurance Company of America leased the building May 23, 2006 to be its headquarters, and renamed it Safeco Plaza.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Seattle Central Library

7) Seattle Central Library (must see)

The Flagship library of the Seattle Public Library system presents a new and innovative architectural face to the world. The building looks as if it has floating platforms enclosed by a glass outer layer supported by steel netting. The intention of the design was to celebrate the relevance of books even in the electronic age. The Seattle Central Library opened its doors in May 2004. The building was designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus of the OMA/LMN Company and the building was constructed by the Hoffman Construction Company of Portland Oregon. The library showcases the institution of a library as no longer only for books but a range of information media that controls knowledge in the digital age. The structure encompasses an area of 33,700 square meters and can hold over a million books. The library has separate children’s collections, a staff floor, an auditorium, a book spiral, a reading room, meeting platform, mixing chamber and a parking space of 4,600square meters. The unique book spiral runs in the form of a ribbon that saves space but runs on continuously. Visitors will revel in the splendor of modern architecture of the Seattle Central Library that not only caters to the present generations of book lovers and information seekers but looks towards their bright future in the electronic media age.

Why You Should Visit:
The architecture is world-class, the building is gigantic, and there is a generous amount of space dedicated to reading either just in chairs or sitting at desks.
Totally worth the visit just to experience even if you're not a fan of architecture or a library person.

The views from the upper levels are generally great, from all sides of the building.
Make sure you go up to the top and find the lookout that looks all of the way down through the atrium.
There's a little gift shop there as well which had some very cute things in it.
The 4th 'Red' floor, which is very red, is definitely worth seeing, too.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu: 10am-8pm; Fri-Sat: 10am-6pm; Sun: 12-6pm
Free admission
Sight description based on wikipedia
Columbia Center

8) Columbia Center (must see)

The Columbia Center located at 701, 5th Avenue Seattle is the tallest building in downtown Seattle and in the State of Washington. The skyscraper towers over the city of Seattle offering breathtaking views of Seattle and its surroundings from the observation deck on the 73rd floor.

The Columbia Center was first designed to be 1005 ft tall. FAA regulations reduced the height of the building because it stood on the flight path of the Sea-Tac Airport. It opened in March 1985 as the Columbia Center. Later the name was changed to Columbia Sea First Center and in 1999 became the Bank of America Tower. In 2005 the Columbia Center resumed its original name after a full circle.

The base of the building is made of Rosa Purino Carnelian granite. The design was by Chester L Lindsey architects and built by Howard S Wright Construction. Martin Selig the developer of the Columbia Center said of the building, ‘the Space Needle told people where Seattle was, the Columbia Center tells people that Seattle has arrived.’ The building has 76 floors and six escalators from the higher floors to the lobby. The design has three interlocking arches that give a three-tower appearance to the structure.

The Columbia Center is a worthwhile destination for high rise and skyscraper architecture enthusiasts and visitors who want to take in the entire views of the city of Seattle from the observation center.

Why You Should Visit:
Cheaper and taller than the Space Needle and, with the exception of a very small portion of the floor, almost 360 degrees.
Also, no timeslot needed – just ride up the elevator and get off at the right floor.

Preferably, visit on a clear day when you can see long distances. If you get your hand stamped during your daytime visit you can come back at night for free and see Seattle all lit up.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Seattle, Washington

Create Your Own Walk in Seattle

Create Your Own Walk in Seattle

Creating your own self-guided walk in Seattle is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Pioneer Square District Walking Tour, Seattle

Pioneer Square District Walking Tour, Seattle

Pioneer Square District was first established in 1852 and was, for a while, Seattle's first downtown. Today this area is full of amazing tourist attractions. Pioneer Square is now considered one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city with amazing art galleries and great architecture. This walking tour will lead you to some of the most spectacular sights in Pioneer Square District.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Center Walk

Center Walk

Seattle Center is a 74 acre campus within the city that combines a park, museums, entertainment and a fairground. It is one of the most famous places in Seattle where the entire family can have fun. You can visit the famous Experience Music Project Museum or go visit the Children's Museum that will offer an absolutely unique experience for your children. Take this walking tour to discover the...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Souvenir Shopping Part 1

Souvenir Shopping Part 1

It would be a pity to leave Seattle without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Seattle, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Capitol Hill Nightlife 2

Capitol Hill Nightlife 2

Seattle is packed with all kinds of tourist attractions. You can spend a whole day in the town admiring its amazing sites. But this city also offers a wide variety of options for a night in town. Take this walking tour for a unique nightlife experience in Seattle.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 Km or 0.6 Miles
Souvenir Shopping Part 2

Souvenir Shopping Part 2

It would be a pity to leave Seattle without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Seattle, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Seattle's Famous Museums and Galleries Tour

Seattle's Famous Museums and Galleries Tour

Seattle is an amazing tourist attraction that has something of interest for everyone. Besides its amazing architecture, this city offers a wide variety of spectacular museums and galleries on art, history, science and music. This walking tour will lead you to some of the most famous museums and galleries that Seattle has to offer.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 Km or 2.9 Miles

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