AKA: University of Washington, Seattle, Central Plaza, Seattle, WA; University of Washington, Seattle, Central Parking Garage, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - infrastructure - transportation structures; landscapes - cultural landscapes

Designers: Kirk, Wallace, McKinley AIA and Associates, Architects (firm); Paul Hayden Kirk (architect); David A. McKinley Jr. (architect); Donald Sheridan Wallace (architect)

Dates: constructed 1969

Pierce Lane
University of Washington, Seattle, Campus, Seattle, WA 98195

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Planners knew that the Red Square area would become the heart of the UW Campus. It stood at the intersection of the main axes composed of the arts and humanities and science quadrangles. Since its completion, it has become a key meeting place, a place of political demonstrations, and site of celebrations. Criticism has been made consistently of its barren character, due to its notable lack of vegetation, in sharp contrast to the rest of the campus. Limitations on surface vegetation in Red Square remain necessary to restrict drainage leaks into the capacious, multi-tiered parking garage below it. Retrofitting the surface to provide more greenery and to insure proper drainage would prove costly and has not been considered a priority on a campus where money has chronically been in short supply.

Building History

The Red Square Parking Garage and Plaza was added at the same time Kane and Meany Halls and Odegaard Undergraduate Library were being planned. The plaza has the feel of an Italian piazza, an extensive public expanse located nearby to key civic monuments such as cathedrals or city halls. In this case, Suzzallo Library, the symbolic Gothic Revival heart of the campus, the repository of scholarship from all departments, presides above the piazza.

The name "Red Square" to describe the central plaza built atop the parking garage was promoted by a writer for The UW Daily, Cassandra Elinor Amesley (d. 11/22/2020), beginning in 1971. Quinn Russell Brown, writing in the University of Washington Magazine,stated in 2021: "As both ASUW president and managing editor of The Daily, Cassandra Elinor Amesley, '77, '81, was an influential student leader on the UW campus. And thanks to her way with words, that influence has lasted in the decades since she graduated. Like any good editor, Amesley could spot a good idea. In 1971, The Daily solicited alternatives for the mundanely titled 'Central Plaza' (the official name for the sweeping, centrally located red-brick mall). Amesley sifted through amusing suggestions like 'The Prison Yard' and 'The Wasteland,' eventually latching on to 'Red Square.' She promoted the name in her Daily stories and it caught on. As she told the Seattle Times four years later, 'I just picked the one I thought would be best.'" (See Quinn Russell Brown, "Udub Things that Define the UW," University of Washington Magazine, vol. 32, no. 3, Fall 2021, p. 68.)

Building Notes

On 01/21/2017, three protesters engaged in a serious confrontation outside an incendiary speech by Milo Yiannopolous, held in Kane Hall on the University of Washington's Red Square. One of the right-wing protesters, Elizabeth Hokoana, came to the meeting armed with a Glock semi-automatic handgun, and when she claimed her husband, Marc, was being threatened by a left-wing demonstrator, Joshua Dukes, she shot Dukes. Just prior to the shooting, prosecutors said, Marc Hokoana sprayed pepper spray into the left-wing portion of the crowd to incite them. As a result of outrage at being targeted with pepper spray, Dukes confronted Marc Hokoana, and Elizabeth "came to his aid" by shooting Dukes. This combined incitement and shooting, according to prosecutors, had been pre-arranged.

Her side of the story was that they were witnessing left-wing protesters beating up a man nearby and that Marc used his pepper spray to free the man from the violence. She claimed that Dukes grabbed Marc Hokoana with a large knife in his hand, and she fired on Dukes to stop him from using it. Prosecution refuted this claim saying the incident "...was not an impulsive act done in a moment of fear." According to KIRO-7, however, "UW investigators say there is no evidence that Dukes had or displayed a knife. Elizabeth Hokoana also admitted to investigators that Dukes had not threatened her or her husband." (See Alison Grande, KIRO-7 TV.com, "UW Shooting suspect contradicts herself in recorded statement," accessed 11/07/2017.)

In the end, Dukes recovered and wished to have "restorative justice" occur. KIRO-7 television reported: "[Dukes] also showed reluctance to help police pursue criminal prosecution of the shooter. He told police there are enough people in prison and he would rather see restorative justice. (See Alison Grande, KIRO-7 TV.com, "UW Shooting suspect contradicts herself in recorded statement," accessed 11/07/2017.)

PCAD id: 5850