Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - department stores

Designers: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, (SOM), San Francisco, CA (firm); Svarz, A. L., Architect (firm); Terry, Roland and Associates, Architects (firm); Edward Charles Bassett (architect); John Ogden Merrill (architect); Nathaniel Alexander Owings (architect); Louis Skidmore Sr. (architect); Louis Svarz (architect); Roland Clyde Terry (architect)

Dates: constructed 1937

6 stories

1617 6th Avenue
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98101-1742

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Fifth Avenue between Pike Street and Pine Street;

Building History

On 08/22/1937, the Seattle Times reported a lease of "...the Ranke Building, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Pike Street, to Nordstrom's, Inc., involving a a consideration of $200,000 over a ten-year period. Approximately $15,000 will be spent in modernization." (See "Space Leased to Dress Shop," Seattle Times, 08/22/1937, p. 19.) Nordstrom's, Incorporated, (later shortened to "Nordstrom, Inc.,") originated in Seattle, WA, as a small department store in 1901 called "Wallin and Nordstrom." This second Nordstrom location grew steadily, first occupying the whole Ranke Building #2, and then expanding by accretion, engulfing two nearby buildings into the flagship store. (Nordstrom initiated this transformation in 1963 with its acquisition of the neighboring Best Apparel, a women's wear store.) Roland Terry and Associates, in collaboration with Skidmore Owings and Merrill's (SOM) San Francisco Office, planned a new facility to merge the two buildings and an intervening one into a minimal cubic mass. Completed in 1973, the new Nordstrom, its facade faced in marble and marked by a long copper canopy, remained the department store's main hub until 1999, when it moved to the vacant Frederick and Nelson Store, one block to the north.

Roland Terry and Associates' 1973 alteration created a stark contrast between the minimal lower four stories and Louis Svarz's ornate, original architecture left untouched on floors five and six.


Changing to meet constantly changing shopping trends, department stores rarely were left static on the interiors or exteriors. Alterations were made many times to the Nordstrom space in the Ranke Building #2, including in 1937, 1963, 1973 and 1986.