AKA: 4th Avenue and Blanchard Street Office Building, Denny Regrade, Seattle, WA; 2101 4th Avenue Office Building, Denny Regrade, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Aungst Engineering, Incorporated (firm); KPFF Consulting Engineers (firm); Lindsey, Chester, L., and Associates, Architects (firm); Selig, Martin, Real Estate (firm); Wright, Howard S., (HSW) Construction Company (firm); Chester Loren Lindsey (architect); Martin Selig (developer); Howard S. Wright (building contractor/developer)

Dates: constructed 1978-1979

24 stories, total floor area: 543,876 sq. ft.

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2101 4th Avenue
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98121-2352

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This Martin Selig development stood at 4th Avenue and Blanchard Street.


Seattle architect Chester L. Lindsey designed this minimal, curtain-walled skyscraper for the developer Martin Selig, with whom he would work several times. Their greatest collaboration would be the 76-story Columbia Seafirst Center (1985). While the building appears to be comprised of two separate towers, their tops angled in opposite directions, it actually had a central section that joined the two. The taller of the sections stood 24 stories tall.

Building History

Seattle developer Martin Selig spent $33 million to erect this pair of office towers, each with a roof angled at 45 degrees. Although it has two towers, the pair functions as a single building. The Sedwick James Building had a 3-level, 116,721-square-foot underground garage, built of reinforced concrete. Located on a half a block site, the frame consisted of 2,650 tons of A-36 and A-572 grade 50 steel transported from Portland, OR and produced by the US Steel Corporation. Atlas Iron Works of Portland and Atlas Erection Company were responsible for construction of the steel framing. Construction began in 02/1978, with frame being completed by 01/17/1979 and the whole building finished by 09/1979. Steel was selected for its light weight and strength, enabling it to resist large earthquakes.

In the wake of the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, energy prices became unstable during the balance of the 1970s. President Carter spearheaded programs to promote energy conservation during his administration, 1976-1980. According to an advertisement placed by US Steet in 1980: "Conservation of energy was a key consideration, and an electric-hydronic heat pump system connected to a main circulating water pipe provides heating and cooling which is both energy efficient and economical to install. In addition, the roofs were designed to accommodate solar panels in the future." (See "STEEL: the first choice for Seattle's newest tower," Progressive Architecture, 09/1980, vol. LXI, no. 9, p. 72-73.) Carter's energy conservation measures were abandoned by the incoming Reagan admininstration in 1981.

In 2018, the building was owned by the holding company, SREH 2014 LLC.

Building Notes

This 25-story office building and its 18-story neighbor contained 400,000 square feet of Class A office space when built. (See Urban Land Institute, Tall Office Buildings in the United States, [Washington, DC: Urban Land Institute, 1985], p. 76.) (An advertisement put out by the U.S. Steel Corporation indicated that the buildings had 531,000 square feet of space.) According to the King County Assessor in 2018, the building contained 543,876 gross square feet, 397,878 net. It stood 344 feet high. It occupied a 38,880-square-foot, (0.89-acre), half-block property bounded by Blanchard Street on the north, Lenora Street on the south, and 4th Avenue on the east.

This all-black, angular building has been known informally in the city as the "Darth Vader Building." (Its design resembled to some the Nazi-influenced helmet worn by Darth Vader in Star Wars, released in 1977. This abstraction is something of a stretch.)

Architect Lindsey (1927-2003) worked with the Seattle-based Howard S. Wright Construction Company to complete the building in 1979. The pair of towers, with their tops angled at 42 degrees recalled Johnson/Burgee's 36-story Pennzoil Place in Houston, TX, completed in 1975. Like Pennzoil Place, the Sedgwick James Building appeared to consist of two towers, each with a chamfered top and smoked-glass curtain walls. The placement of the towers differed between the two projects, however, and the Seattle project had towers of clearly differing heights, unlike the Houston design. Other contractors on the Sedgwick James Building included KPFF Consulting Engineers, as structural engineers, and Aungst Engineering, Incorporated, mechanical engineering consultants.