AKA: Spokane Public Facilities District, INB Performing Arts Center, Riverside, Spokane, WA; Spokane Public Facilities District, First Interstate Center for the Arts, Riverside, Spokane, WA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts buildings; built works - performing arts structures - opera houses

Designers: INTEGRUS Architecture (firm); Walker and McGough, Architects (firm); John Witt McGough (architect); Bruce Morris Walker (architect)

Dates: constructed 1972-1974

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334 West Spokane Falls Boulevard
Riverside, Spokane, WA 99201-0212

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Known since Expo '74 as the "Spokane Opera House," the well-known Spokane architectural firm of Walker-McGough designed the $10.8 million building, The building's western portion housed the opera house, while its connected, eastern wing originally housed the Washington State Pavilion at the fair. An central, covered atrium joined the two parts. The eastern section was repurposed as a convention center after Expo '74 closed.

The opera house portion was renamed for a local bank, the Inland National Bank (INB), in 2006. INB was taken over by the First Interstate BancSystem in 2018, and 10-year naming rights were renewed for it in 09/2018.

Building History

Planned and constructed to be part of Expo '74 in Spokane, the 2,700-seat Washington State Pavilion Opera House opened on 05/01/1974. After the fair, the convention center wing closed for remodeling, and reopened in 1976 with 40,000 square feet and six meeting rooms.

The City of Spokane took over ownership and management of the Spokane Opera House in mid-1979. The city maintained control over the building until 2003, when a new governmental entity, the Spokane Public Facilities District (SPFD), assumed management of the former opera house and the adjacent Spokane Convention Center.

The hometown Inland National Bank (INB) paid $1.5 million for the naming rights to opera house for 10 years on 05/30/2006. The First Interstate BancSystem of Billings, MT, took over INB on 08/16/2018, and the opera house was renamed the "First Interstate Center for the Arts," the following month.


In 1989, the convention center added a 17,000-square-foot ballroom, seven more meeting spaces and a small, 270-person theatre. This expansion enabled the convention center to compete for more, mid-size convention business. Providing space for conventions has been a very competitive undertaking in the US, as local government agencies, large and small, have searched for revenue-generating activities during the 1980s through the 2010s.

A second expansion phase for the convention center occurred between 2000 and 2007. In the latter year, the SPFD completed adding another 100,000-square-foot exhibition hall and six more meeting rooms. Designers remodeled the original exhibit space, known as the Ag Trade Center, into a huge ballroom. Integrus Architecture, successors to Walker-McGough Architects, designed this 2007 convention center expansion.

Between 2010 and 2015, the SPFD undertook a third expansion phase, in which it appended a 20,000-square-foot exhibit space, 12 meeting rooms, a boardroom, a ballroom, a pedestrial link, and a skybridge to the 700-room Davenport Grand Hotel and Garage across the street onto the complex. In addition, new landscaping restored the Centennial Trail and riverbank at this time. (See Spokane Convention Center.com, "History," accessed 04/12/2019.)

Following the Inland National Bank's naming deal and subsequent cash infusion, remodeling work began on the 1974 building. According to Allison Boggs, writing in the Spokane Spokesman-Review: "About $4 million worth of work is scheduled to take place this summer as the Performing Arts Center is shut down for two months to update restrooms, expand the women’s bathrooms and add family restrooms on each floor. The cooling system for the building also will be replaced, updating it and separating it from the Convention Center’s system. And the front of the building will be relandscaped with benches, drinking fountains, trees, shrubs and grassy space. Additional projects planned for that building in future years include adding two floors of dressing rooms backstage, recarpeting the entire building, upgrading the lobby with a new ceiling and lighting and replacing the glass windows and doors with more energy-efficient models." (See Allison Boggs, Spokane Spokesman-Review.com, "Opera House enters new aria," published 05/31/2006, accessed 04/12/2019.)

PCAD id: 22830