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Mapping 10 Starchitect-Designed Buildings in Seattle

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Seattle doesn't get too much credit for its architectural significance but it really deserves a second-look. Works from Frank Gehry to Rem Koolhaas to R. C. Reamer to the team at Olson Kundig pepper the city and provide unique points of view to look upon or out from Got a local project or upcoming one desgined by a famed architects that doesn't appear in today's feature? Drop us a line or let us know in the comments. Without further ado, a map of 10 starchitect-designed buildings in the Emerald City.

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1. EMP Museum

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325 5th Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 770-2700
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Every discussion of Seattle starchitecture begins with Frank Gehry's design for EMP. Built in 2000, Gehry decided to deconstruct several electric guitars and used the pieces as building components, thought it's the 21,000 metal shingles, each one unique, that gives the complex it's shape and look. Depending on the angle and time of day, you'll get a difference color and design.

2. Seattle Central Library

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1000 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

Designed by Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Ramus in 2004, the design was conceived as five stacked boxes staggered to allow as much light as possible into the building. The triangular Fifth Avenue entrance is the best spot for photos. You'll find a curtain of windows reflecting diamond-shaped light onto the floor.

3. Smith Tower

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506 2nd Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 622-4004
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An example of neoclassical architecture. Its outer skin is granite on the first and second floors, and terracotta on the rest. Designed by Edwin H. and T. Walker Gaggin and built in 1914.

4. King Street Station (SEA)

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303 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 382-4125
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Designed by Charles Reed and Allen Stem; built in 1906.The station’s 250-foot clock tower was modeled after Venice, Italy’s Piazza de San Marco’s bell tower. Ornate ceilings, wainscoting and mosaic tile work covered up in a 1960s renovation are starting to emerge during a current restorative renovation.

5. Chapel of St. Ignatius

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Seattle University
Seattle, WA 98122

Architect Steven Holl chose "A Gathering of Different Lights" as the guiding concept for the design of the Chapel of St. Ignatius when it was built in 1997. This metaphor describes Seattle University's mission and it also refers to St. Ignatius vision of the spiritual life as comprising many interior lights and darknesses, which he called consolations and desolations.

6. The 5th Avenue Theatre

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1308 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 625-1900
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Designed by Robert C. Reamer and built in 1926. The elaborate interior was inspired by Imperial China’s Forbidden City and other dynastic marvels. The craftsmanship of the theater’s ceiling is breathtaking, with vibrant, layered carvings and a chandelier that dangles from the mouth of a giant dragon.

7. Rainier Tower

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1301 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

The building was the third success for design architect Minoru Yamasaki and project architects The NBBJ Group. The building was designed as a unique inverted pyramid, in part to reduce its footprint and make more room for pedestrians. It may be even simpler to figure out how the structure’s shape inspired two nicknames: the Wine Glass and the Beaver Building (perhaps suggesting one nibbled at its base).

8. 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.

9. Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

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719 S King St
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 623-5124
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Built by Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, the design grew out of the original, 1910 multi-story building that served as a social center and living quarters for Chinese, Japanese and Filipino immigrants. Drawing inspiration from the building’s rich history, they saved as much of the original building as possible. In addition to building materials – such as timbers cut out between floors – the character and scale of the building were maintained. On the upper floors, original narrow doorways and corridors and small rooms preserve the intimacy of the original space, and are a venue for the museum’s immersion exhibits.

10. 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.

1. EMP Museum

325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

Every discussion of Seattle starchitecture begins with Frank Gehry's design for EMP. Built in 2000, Gehry decided to deconstruct several electric guitars and used the pieces as building components, thought it's the 21,000 metal shingles, each one unique, that gives the complex it's shape and look. Depending on the angle and time of day, you'll get a difference color and design.

325 5th Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

2. Seattle Central Library

1000 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104

Designed by Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Ramus in 2004, the design was conceived as five stacked boxes staggered to allow as much light as possible into the building. The triangular Fifth Avenue entrance is the best spot for photos. You'll find a curtain of windows reflecting diamond-shaped light onto the floor.

1000 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

3. Smith Tower

506 2nd Ave., Seattle, WA 98104

An example of neoclassical architecture. Its outer skin is granite on the first and second floors, and terracotta on the rest. Designed by Edwin H. and T. Walker Gaggin and built in 1914.

506 2nd Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104

4. King Street Station (SEA)

303 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104

Designed by Charles Reed and Allen Stem; built in 1906.The station’s 250-foot clock tower was modeled after Venice, Italy’s Piazza de San Marco’s bell tower. Ornate ceilings, wainscoting and mosaic tile work covered up in a 1960s renovation are starting to emerge during a current restorative renovation.

303 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104

5. Chapel of St. Ignatius

Seattle University, Seattle, WA 98122

Architect Steven Holl chose "A Gathering of Different Lights" as the guiding concept for the design of the Chapel of St. Ignatius when it was built in 1997. This metaphor describes Seattle University's mission and it also refers to St. Ignatius vision of the spiritual life as comprising many interior lights and darknesses, which he called consolations and desolations.

Seattle University
Seattle, WA 98122

6. The 5th Avenue Theatre

1308 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

Designed by Robert C. Reamer and built in 1926. The elaborate interior was inspired by Imperial China’s Forbidden City and other dynastic marvels. The craftsmanship of the theater’s ceiling is breathtaking, with vibrant, layered carvings and a chandelier that dangles from the mouth of a giant dragon.

1308 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

7. Rainier Tower

1301 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

The building was the third success for design architect Minoru Yamasaki and project architects The NBBJ Group. The building was designed as a unique inverted pyramid, in part to reduce its footprint and make more room for pedestrians. It may be even simpler to figure out how the structure’s shape inspired two nicknames: the Wine Glass and the Beaver Building (perhaps suggesting one nibbled at its base).

1301 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

8. 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

9. Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

719 S King St, Seattle, WA 98104

Built by Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, the design grew out of the original, 1910 multi-story building that served as a social center and living quarters for Chinese, Japanese and Filipino immigrants. Drawing inspiration from the building’s rich history, they saved as much of the original building as possible. In addition to building materials – such as timbers cut out between floors – the character and scale of the building were maintained. On the upper floors, original narrow doorways and corridors and small rooms preserve the intimacy of the original space, and are a venue for the museum’s immersion exhibits.

719 S King St
Seattle, WA 98104

10. 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