AKA: University of Washington, UW Medical Center, Brotman, Jeff and Susan, Building, South Lake Union, Seattle, WA; University of Washington, UW Medical Center, 815 Mercer Street Office Building, South Lake Union, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings; built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Cawdrey and Vemo, Incorporated, General Contractors (firm); Graham, John and Company, Architects and Engineers (firm); James William Cawdrey (building contractor); John Graham Jr. (architect); Bjarne Vemo (building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1963-1964

5 stories, total floor area: 102,235 sq. ft.

815 Mercer Street
South Lake Union, Seattle, WA 98109-4714

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Building History

The Seattle architectural and engineering firm of John Graham and Company designed the Washington Natural Gas Company Building in 1962. Construction on the site began by the general contractor, Cawdrey and Vemo, in 11/1962, with the building being opened to the public on 06/01/1964.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote of its impending construction in 08/1962: "Construction plans for a new general office building in Seattle were announced today by officials of the Washington Natural Gas Co. The structure, containing 101,000 square feet of space, will be located on the company's property at 9th Avenue N. and Mercer Street. Upper floors will consolidate the company's executive and administrative branches with various departmental operations. An appliance showroom, auditorium, cashiers and sales offices will be located on the main floor along with customer order clerks and the home service department. A combination ground floor and basement will house facilities for construction and customer service personnel. The new Washington Gas Company headquarters have been designed to improve the effectiveness of the general operation as well as that of customer service. Company spokesmen said industrial and domestic service during the past six years has accentuated the need for further centralization of all activities in the interest of increased efficiency. Designed by John Graham and Company, architects and engineers of Seattle and New York, the four-story building will have a facade of exposed aggregate cast stone panels with black granite trim. Foundation and core are designed for an eventual addition of three floors to the structure and a fallout shelter will be provided in a portion of the basement. Five-foot modules will allow partitioning to be placed or removed at any five-foot interval without imposing limitations caused by mechanical or electrical fixtures. Construction of the fully air-conditioned building is expected to begin in October of this year with occupancy planned for May f 1964. The building will house approximately 300 employees, with another 200 field personnel working out of its offices. Construction plans call for ample parking for customers and company vehicles with the immediate vicinity of the building." (See "New Gas Building Planned," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 08/05/1962, p. BM25.)

Vulcan Incorporated, a major South Lake Union developer, and the University of Washington Department of Medicine finished the second phase of development at 815 Mercer in 06/2008. This phase included the creation of two five-story office towers, containing 170,000-square-foot laboratory and an 86,000-square-foot office building, serving 950 employees.

Building Notes

A special section in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer of 05/31/1964 (see pp. G1-G16) was devoted to the new Washington Natural Gas Company Building and natural gas use in WA State.

The Washington Natural Gas Company Building was well-known for the 26-foot-tall neon sign depicting a flame on its roof. The blue neon flame sign was removed in 2001 and rehoused at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, WA.

This office building was renovated between 2003-2005 into laboratory spaces to serve the Center for Cardiovascular Biology and Regenerative Medicine, the Center for Translational Medicine in Women's Health, and the Program in Allergy and Inflammation. In May 2005, the building was renamed in honor of University of Washington Regent and donor, Jeff Brotman, and his wife, Susan.

PCAD id: 6348