AKA: United States Federal Office Building #3, Jackson, Henry M., Building, Seattle, WA; Jackson Federal Building, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings

Designers: Bassetti, Fred, and Company (firm); Graham, John and Company, Architects and Engineers (firm); Haag, Richard, Associates, Incorporated, Site Planners, Landscape Architects (firm); Hoffman Construction Company (firm); Frederick Forde Bassetti (architect); Donald McLeod Frothingham Jr. (architect); John Graham Jr. (architect); Richard Haag (landscape architect); Lee Hawley Hoffman (building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1971-1974

37 stories

915 2nd Avenue
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98174-1009

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Building History

The U.S. Federal Building's design was a collaboration between Fred Bassetti and Company and John Graham and Company, while Hoffman Construction Company erected it. The tower was renamed in 1983 following the sudden death of Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson (1912-1983), one Washington's two powerhouse Senators following World War II. Jackson and his colleague, Warren Magnuson (1905-1989), became legendary for their efforts in the US Congress to procure Federal aid for innumerable public projects in their home state. Richard Haag and Associates worked on the landscape planning for the high-rise. His multi-level landscaping featured sculptures by Isamu Noguchi, Harold Balazs, and Philip McCracken.

Within the Bassetti office, David Frothingham played a significant role in the design of the Jackson Federal Building. His obituary stated: "As chief of design on the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building in Seattle, he was particularly proud of preserving the arch on 2nd avenue, as well as other salvaged terra cotta pieces incorporated into the design." (See Seattle Times.com, "Donald Frothingham July 7, 1928-September 1, 2022," published 11/27/2022, accessed 11/28/2022.)

Building Notes

This 37-story building's exterior was composed of interwoven, prefabricated concrete panels. The external skin was originally designed to have a brick veneer, which was changed to precast concrete panels to save money.

The office building was erected on what had been the site of the Frye Opera House between 1884 and 1889. The opera house was destroyed in the Great Seattle Fire of 06/06/1889.


Several buildings were demolished to make room for the full-block sized Jackson Building. These included the Frye Building (a.k.a. the Hotel Stevens [1889-1890]), Elmer H. Fisher's Burke Building (1889-1891), and the Tivoli Theatre (1913). A fragment of the six-story Burke Block, a Richardsonian Romanesque arched entryway, was preserved in the entry plaza. The arch's presence underscored the popularity and persistence of the historic preservation movement in the early 1970s, a period during which active public advocacy efforts saved many Seattle landmarks from the wrecking ball.

PCAD id: 4657