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Curbed's Downtown Seattle Architectural Walking Tour

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It's easy to stand up on top of the Space Needle or up at Kerry Park and admire the beautiful Downtown Seattle buildings from afar. But if you've ever wanted to take some time to appreciate the details and minutia that make Seattle's bustling center so sublime, we give you the Curbed Downtown Seattle Architectural Walking Tour. Below, you'll find a slate of structures we believe serve as a primer for the best Downtown Seattle has to offer the canon of architecture. Some are old, some are new-ish. Some feature the Beaux-Arts style that our early architectural forefathers tried to instill in us while others champion the postmodernism of the 80's. But they all share an importance to the City of Seattle, and look to be in place for a long time. Have we made severely dumb inclusions or sinful omissions? By all means let us know in the comments.

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Seaboard Building

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This trapezoidal-shaped, Beaux Arts-style building, with brick and terra cotta, was completed in 1909. Designated City of Seattle landmark, the former bank home is now full of condos.

Nordstrom Building

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Formerly the Frederick & Nelson Building, this was originally a four-story building but five more stories were added for the retail giant, making for a curious dichotomy.

Ross Building

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Formerly the Woolworth's Building, this was one of the last uses of terra cotta in downtown Seattle.

Men's Wearhouse Building

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Built in 1929, this housed the ticket office for the Great Northern Railway. Architect R.C. Reamer designed a building that anticipates modernism, but it still incorporates classically inspired elements. Keep an eye out for the window mullions.

1411 Fourth Avenue Building

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R.C. Reamer again. At the time it was built (1928), it it was the largest building in the city to be entirely faced in stone.

The Cobb Building

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The only remaining one of 11 buildings meant to be unified architecturally, Beaux Arts style, the Cobb was the first medical-dental building west of the Mississippi. Now it's condos. The Chief Seattle busts are the highlight.

Fairmont Olympic Hotel

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Built in 1924 as one of the original Western Hotels, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Look for the Renaissance Palazzo style with brick and terra-cotta cladding.

Seattle Tower

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The building is known as Seattle's first art-deco tower. Its distinctive, ziggurat exterior is clad in 33 shades of brick designed to effect a gradient which lightens from the bottom to the top of the building. This is said to have been inspired by local rock formations

IBM Building

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The building was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, who also was architect of Rainier Tower on the corner diagonally opposite. What makes it unique are the vertical elements all around the outside of the building.

Rainier Tower

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Also designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the skyscraper has an unusual appearance, being built atop an 11-story, concrete pedestal base that tapers towards ground level, like an inverted pyramid.

Skinner Building

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The Skinner Building is a Seattle classic with old-fashioned elegance and modern amenities. In 1988, the building was enhanced with new glass entry doors, vestibule lights, and a new lobby ceiling. The 5th Avenue Theatre calls it home.

U.S. Bank Centre

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The eighth tallest building in Seattle and was designed by Callison Architecture. Considered a great example of the postmodernism that was popular with office towers in the 1980s.

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Seaboard Building

This trapezoidal-shaped, Beaux Arts-style building, with brick and terra cotta, was completed in 1909. Designated City of Seattle landmark, the former bank home is now full of condos.

Nordstrom Building

Formerly the Frederick & Nelson Building, this was originally a four-story building but five more stories were added for the retail giant, making for a curious dichotomy.

Ross Building

Formerly the Woolworth's Building, this was one of the last uses of terra cotta in downtown Seattle.

Men's Wearhouse Building

Built in 1929, this housed the ticket office for the Great Northern Railway. Architect R.C. Reamer designed a building that anticipates modernism, but it still incorporates classically inspired elements. Keep an eye out for the window mullions.

1411 Fourth Avenue Building

R.C. Reamer again. At the time it was built (1928), it it was the largest building in the city to be entirely faced in stone.

The Cobb Building

The only remaining one of 11 buildings meant to be unified architecturally, Beaux Arts style, the Cobb was the first medical-dental building west of the Mississippi. Now it's condos. The Chief Seattle busts are the highlight.

Fairmont Olympic Hotel

Built in 1924 as one of the original Western Hotels, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Look for the Renaissance Palazzo style with brick and terra-cotta cladding.

Seattle Tower

The building is known as Seattle's first art-deco tower. Its distinctive, ziggurat exterior is clad in 33 shades of brick designed to effect a gradient which lightens from the bottom to the top of the building. This is said to have been inspired by local rock formations

IBM Building

The building was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, who also was architect of Rainier Tower on the corner diagonally opposite. What makes it unique are the vertical elements all around the outside of the building.

Rainier Tower

Also designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the skyscraper has an unusual appearance, being built atop an 11-story, concrete pedestal base that tapers towards ground level, like an inverted pyramid.

Skinner Building

The Skinner Building is a Seattle classic with old-fashioned elegance and modern amenities. In 1988, the building was enhanced with new glass entry doors, vestibule lights, and a new lobby ceiling. The 5th Avenue Theatre calls it home.

U.S. Bank Centre

The eighth tallest building in Seattle and was designed by Callison Architecture. Considered a great example of the postmodernism that was popular with office towers in the 1980s.