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Chona Kasinger

Seattle buildings and places designed by Space Needle architects

Their influence on the city goes way beyond one landmark

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Many architects and designers had a hand in the Space Needle, erected for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair—aka the Century 21 Exposition. World’s Fair Commission chair Eddie Carlson made the original, rough sketch of a needle-like lounge in the clouds. Legendary Seattle architect Paul Thiry was the mastermind behind the fair’s cohesive, futuristic look.

But once the plan was in place, three architects rolled up their sleeves and designed what became perhaps Seattle’s most iconic landmark. John Graham, Jr. focused on the saucer at the top. Victor Steinbrueck—best-known for leading the Pike Place Market historic preservation effort in the 1960s—was behind the curving tower shape, inspired by an abstract wooden sculpture called “The Feminine One” by David Lemon. John T. Ridley was charged with the crown at the top.

All three of these architects had an impact on Seattle that stretch far beyond that part of the skyline, though. Graham was the father of the modern shopping mall. Steinbrueck is a big reason why the historic Pike Place Market still stands today. Ridley designed many area homes and a few neighborhood staples.

Here’s some of Graham, Steinbrueck, and Ridley’s most visible work in Seattle, from towers to parks—Space Needle excluded.

Map points are ordered from north to south.

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1. Northgate Mall

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401 NE Northgate Way
Seattle, WA 98125
(206) 362-4777
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When Northgate Mall—now slated for a big transit-oriented development and hockey practice facility—opened in 1950, it launched a new era in retail architecture, being the first shopping center to be designated a mall. It was all started by John Graham, Jr. He went on to design many other malls throughout the world.

2. The University of Washington Club (FAC)

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4020 E Stevens Way NE
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-0437
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Victor Steinbrueck and Paul Hayden Kirk—another prominent midcentury Seattle architect—designed this faculty club overlooking Lake Washington in 1960. Both were graduates of the UW architecture program.

3. Boren Park

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1606 15th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102
(206) 684-4075
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Louisa Boren Park—originally Viewpoint Park— was a collaboration between groundbreaking landscape architect Richard Haag, who also headed up the adaptive reuse of Gas Works Park, and Victor Steinbrueck.

4. Betty Bowen Viewpoint

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1191 7th Ave W
Seattle, WA 98119
(206) 684-4075
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It might be hard to find Victor Steinbrueck’s work at this Queen Anne viewpoint, named for a beloved journalist and art promoter—several artists, which also include Morris Graves, Margaret Tompkins, Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, and Charles Stokes, contributed unsigned work.

5. The Westin Seattle

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1900 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 728-1000
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John Graham, Jr. designed this iconic duo of round towers, both the original 1969 tower—when it was named the Washington Plaza Hotel—and its sibling in 1982, shortly after it was renamed the Westin.

6. Victor Steinbrueck Park

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2001 Western Ave
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 684-4075
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The park now bears the name of its architect, but when Victor Steinbrueck designed it (again, teamed up with Richard Haag), it was called Market Park. That came a couple of decades after a massive historic preservation movement led by Steinbrueck, which saved the Market from demolition and created the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority.

7. West Seattle Bowl

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4505 39th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 932-3731
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Near the West Seattle Junction, the 1948-built West Seattle Bowl is a holdout from a different bowling era, complete with wooden lanes. There have been some updates in recent years, but the building maintains a vintage vibe inside—originally designed by John T. Ridley.

1. Northgate Mall

401 NE Northgate Way, Seattle, WA 98125

When Northgate Mall—now slated for a big transit-oriented development and hockey practice facility—opened in 1950, it launched a new era in retail architecture, being the first shopping center to be designated a mall. It was all started by John Graham, Jr. He went on to design many other malls throughout the world.

401 NE Northgate Way
Seattle, WA 98125

2. The University of Washington Club (FAC)

4020 E Stevens Way NE, Seattle, WA 98195

Victor Steinbrueck and Paul Hayden Kirk—another prominent midcentury Seattle architect—designed this faculty club overlooking Lake Washington in 1960. Both were graduates of the UW architecture program.

4020 E Stevens Way NE
Seattle, WA 98195

3. Boren Park

1606 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102

Louisa Boren Park—originally Viewpoint Park— was a collaboration between groundbreaking landscape architect Richard Haag, who also headed up the adaptive reuse of Gas Works Park, and Victor Steinbrueck.

1606 15th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102

4. Betty Bowen Viewpoint

1191 7th Ave W, Seattle, WA 98119

It might be hard to find Victor Steinbrueck’s work at this Queen Anne viewpoint, named for a beloved journalist and art promoter—several artists, which also include Morris Graves, Margaret Tompkins, Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, and Charles Stokes, contributed unsigned work.

1191 7th Ave W
Seattle, WA 98119

5. The Westin Seattle

1900 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

John Graham, Jr. designed this iconic duo of round towers, both the original 1969 tower—when it was named the Washington Plaza Hotel—and its sibling in 1982, shortly after it was renamed the Westin.

1900 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

6. Victor Steinbrueck Park

2001 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

The park now bears the name of its architect, but when Victor Steinbrueck designed it (again, teamed up with Richard Haag), it was called Market Park. That came a couple of decades after a massive historic preservation movement led by Steinbrueck, which saved the Market from demolition and created the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority.

2001 Western Ave
Seattle, WA 98121

7. West Seattle Bowl

4505 39th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116

Near the West Seattle Junction, the 1948-built West Seattle Bowl is a holdout from a different bowling era, complete with wooden lanes. There have been some updates in recent years, but the building maintains a vintage vibe inside—originally designed by John T. Ridley.

4505 39th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116