AKA: WaMu Tower #1, Downtown, Seattle, WA; 1201 3rd Avenue Office Building, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: KPFF Consulting Engineers (firm); Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), Architects (firm); Mahlum and Nordfors, Architects (firm); McKinley Architects, PSC (firm); McKinley Gordon, Architects (firm); Wright Runstad and Company (firm); Wright, Howard S., (HSW) Construction Company (firm); Robert Cioppa (architect); Sheldon Fox (architect); Patrick Gordon (architect); A. Eugene Kohn (architect); John E. Mahlum (architect); David A. McKinley Jr. (architect); Vincent B. Nordfors (architect); William Pedersen (architect); Harvey Paul Pittelko (engineer); Harold Jon Runstad (developer); Howard S. Wright (building contractor/developer)

Dates: constructed 1985-1988

55 stories, total floor area: 1,097,463 sq. ft.

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1201 3rd Avenue
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98101-3029

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Building History

At 730 feet and fifty-five stories high, the first Washington Mutual Tower in Downtown Seattle, WA, ranked as the second tallest in the city in 2000. Owned by Shorenstein Realty Services, L.P., it occupied an entire city block and contained 1,114,849 square feet of Class A office space. (According to the Shorenstein Realty web site in 2010, the office tower had 1,097,463 square feet.) Seattle architecture firms, Mahlum and Nordfors and McKinley Architects, PSC, served as local, Associated Architects on this project with the New York-based Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF). KPF utilized changes in the Seattle building code that provided height incentives for developers if they included more public services and amenities. These amenities included inclusion of a transit tunnel stop, publicly-accessible plaza, Post-Modern building top and retail spaces on lower floors.

At the time of its construction, the public knew that the Washington Mutual Tower was stylistically heading in a new direction. Elizabeth Rhodes wrote in the Seattle Times in 1986: "It's nicknamed Block 5, and next year as it rises 55 stores into the Seattle skyline at 1201 Third Ave., it will offer proof that we are indeed proceeding in a different architectural direction--a direction that may well change the flavor of downtown Seattle. But with Block 5, Seattle will enter an era architects are terming neo-classic or post-modern-- "po-mo" for short. With its columned base, its sculpted tower, with its use of aluminum and blue-green glass, Block 5 is, says [architect David] McKinley, 'a modern building that uses a classic base of proportion and symmetries.'" (See Elizabeth Rhodes, "Seattle Goes 'Po-Mo'--Post-Modern High Rises Soon Will Punctuate the City Skyline," Seattle Times, 05/22/1986, p. D1.)

The architects originally came to Seattle c. 1983 to compete for the Seattle Art Museum commission (eventually won by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown); they left town with this huge commission. Robert Cioppa was the KPF Partner-in-Charge for 1201 3rd Avenue.

Building Notes

The year the first Washington Mutual Tower opened, it was named one of the New York Times's three best new office buildings in 1988. Principal Architects Kohn Pedersen Fox, headquartered in New York, NY, developed a celebrated reputation designing large-scale, restrained versions of contextual Post-Modern design in the 1980s. The building used simple ornamentation and provided the skyline with a distinctively shaped roof, features important to Post Modernists at the time. Developer H. Jon Runstad worked with Seattle-based graphic designer Tim Girvin and Kohn Pedersen Fox to create a comprehensive graphic design program for 1201 3rd Avenue; this included the invention of a new type face to be used on all graphics within the building. When built, the building also included a parking garage that could contain 801 cars.


The digital health care company, Accolade, expanded its operations within the 1201 3rd Avenue building in mid-2019. At that time, it spent about $2.5 million renovating about 45,000 square feet of space for its 70 new employees, bringing its total staffing to about 220. (See Ashley Stewart, "On Tech & Law, 45,000," Puget Sound Business Journal, 06/21/2019, p. 12.)

King County Assessor Number: ID n/a

PCAD id: 6328