Seattle has a pretty darn solid variety of architectural masterpieces. There’s old, there’s new, there’s understated and there’s over the top. So if you aren’t familiar with Seattle’s buildings there’s a lot to see and explore. And we’re here to help.
Here are 13 amazing buildings to check out in Seattle.
Described as the most important new library to be built in a generation, this library is a testament to flipping the traditional idea of a space on its head. A postmodern celebration of steel and glass, the library is both visually impressive and inviting. Heck, you could even check out a book while you’re here too.
Where: 1000 4th Avenue
In case you didn’t know, the Smith Tower was once the tallest building West of the Mississippi. And it just so happens to be one of Seattle’s cooler buildings with its neoclassical design. Not to mention it’s Seattle’s oldest skyscraper and has a pretty cool observation deck that you can visit normally.
Where: 506 2nd Ave
On the other end of the spectrum lies Suzzallo at the UW campus. Done in a collegiate gothic style, the library is reminiscent of the great halls at ancient colleges around the world. Or Harry Potter, whatever you see.
Where: 4000 15th Avenue NE
This building is probably the hardest to get to as you need a boat and its a private residence. But if you happen to end up on Lake Washington it is absolutely worth cruising past. And that’s because as the name suggests, there’s a whole T-Rex skeleton in the house. You’ll have to see it to believe it!
It’s the arches at the pavilion that really take the cake here. Created for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Center embraces a futuristic design that is still contemporary decades later. Probably because it was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the architect behind the World Trade Center.
Where: 200 2nd Avenue N
Another building designed by Yamasaki (nice). We like it because the base is a sort of mash-up between modernist and brutalist design. A massive slab of concrete that resembles an upside-down pyramid? Now that’s the good stuff.
Where: 1301 5th Avenue
Another building that has curves! Cool. We’re just messing around. The Space Needle is Seattle’s most iconic landmark for good reason. Now, the real trick is finding an angle of it that hasn’t been done to death. And if you don’t know about the time it fell you can read about that here.
Where: 400 Broad Street
A Frank Gehry designed masterpiece. Although critical reception has been mixed, we think it’s a fitting psychedelic space for the biggest collection of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia in the world. We never went to architecture school though. And well, bright color isn’t exactly Seattle’s best look.
Where: 325 5th Avenue N
The Bullit Center just so happens to be the greenest commercial building in the world and is located in the heart of Seattle. And their mission to show that green buildings can and do work in our modern age. So when things get back to normal we highly suggest that you take a tour of this amazing space.
Where: 1501 East Madison Street
It’s only fair that a museum about some of the best countries in the world for design looks good. Outside, you have a facade with a monolithic quality to it, featuring a massive zinc wall. Inside, a manmade fjord is evoked, with bridges crossing it throughout the museum.
Where: 2655 NW Market Street
These three spheres were built to change the approach to a traditional office space. While the large majority of the inside is not open to the public, we have to admit, giant bubbles in downtown Seattle are pretty cool. Buckminster Fuller would be proud.
Where: 2111 7th Avenue
King Street Station
Yep, it’s a train station. But it’s a whole lot more than that because this building has some beautiful details that you don’t want to miss. And it was designed by Reed and Stem who also designed Grand Central Terminal in New York. So next time you’re near the International District or planning a train trip be sure to check out
Where: 303 South Jackson Street
Hell yeah, it’s a tiny house that looks like it’s straight out of Up! This 1909 farmhouse drew headlines when the previous owner, Edith, turned down a cool million offered to her by developers. Somebody needs to come along and make a tiny museum out of it.
Where: 1438 NW 46th Street
And there you have it! Seattle buildings may seem boring especially because box houses have been done to death. But don’t ignore the old and kind of wacky ones because we guarantee they have some history.