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Beacon Hill’s iconic Pacific Tower completes latest renovations

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The latest in a long line of reimaginings for this Seattle structure is complete

Originally opened in 1933 as a Marine Hospital Service facility, the Carl Gould-designed building that would come to be known as Pacific Tower has been one of Seattle’s most iconic structures over the years, not to mention home to some of the region’s top companies.

Once it’s days as a health facility were done, additions by architects Zimmer Gunsul Frasca helped them keep the building fresh and innovating. In 1998, they received federal approval to lease a portion of the building to a non-healthcare organization, provided that lease revenues would support charity care for the poor. That’s how a little company called Amazon.com would come to call it home until 2011. And then, the next phase of building renovations kicks in again.

A desire to repurpose the building to train the next generation of healthcare workers led to Seattle Central College signing on to create a new Health Education Center where they’re pioneering a new training model for aspiring dental hygienists. Then, the legislature appropriated $20 million to pay for renovations. The Washington State Department of Commerce oversaw the renovation project while working to fulfill it’s vision.

Along with the college, there are a slew of nonprofits and small businesses that have filled the building, which is now fully occupied. They include FareStart, Pacific Medical Centers, Seattle Indian Health Board, and Bike Works, to name a few.

Funds to cover the $54 million project cost came from an innovative public-private financing model as federal tax credit financing was arranged to provide $17 million towards renovation. City and county grants, loans and over $5 million in charitable gifts provided the balance.

Of course, bringing a nearly century-old building up to current energy code standards was also a big part of the renovations. Nearly every light in the building was replaced with LED fixtures, which are networked to intelligently regulate light levels depending on occupancy and daylight. Occupancy sensors also communicate with a control system to provide optimal levels of heating, cooling, and ventilation by zone.