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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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1. Seaboard Building

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1500 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

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.

2. Nordstrom Building

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500 Pine St
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 628-2111

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.

3. Ross Building

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301 Pike St
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 623-6781

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

4. Men's Wearhouse Building

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1404 4th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 622-0570

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.

5. 1411 Fourth Avenue Building

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1411 4th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

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.

6. The Cobb Building

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1301 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

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.

7. Fairmont Olympic Hotel

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411 University St
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 621-1700
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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.

8. Seattle Tower

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1218 3rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

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

9. IBM Building

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1200 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

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.

10. Rainier Tower

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1310 4th Ave
Seattle, WA

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.

11. Skinner Building

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1326 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

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.

12. U.S. Bank Centre

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1420 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 344-3690

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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1. Seaboard Building

1500 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101

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.

1500 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

2. Nordstrom Building

500 Pine St, Seattle, WA 98101

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.

500 Pine St
Seattle, WA 98101

3. Ross Building

301 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101

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

301 Pike St
Seattle, WA 98101

4. Men's Wearhouse Building

1404 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

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.

1404 4th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

5. 1411 Fourth Avenue Building

1411 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

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.

1411 4th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

6. The Cobb Building

1301 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101

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.

1301 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

7. Fairmont Olympic Hotel

411 University St, Seattle, WA 98101

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.

411 University St
Seattle, WA 98101

8. Seattle Tower

1218 3rd Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

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

1218 3rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

9. IBM Building

1200 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

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.

1200 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

10. Rainier Tower

1310 4th Ave, Seattle, WA

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.

1310 4th Ave
Seattle, WA

11. Skinner Building

1326 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

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.

1326 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

12. U.S. Bank Centre

1420 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

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.

1420 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101