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United State General Services Administration

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The site was purchased by the federal government in 1929 for the purpose of constructing a Federal Office Building. Post Alley, which originally ran north-south and bisected the full 220'by 230'site into eastern and western halves, was vacated and the single, full block site created for the building. The FOB was designed in 1930, and constructed in 1931-1933 for a budgeted cost of $2,375,000. The designer of record was James A. Wetmore, the Department of the Treasury's Supervising Architect. Wetmore, trained in law, had a prolific career with the federal government. He was the Supervising Architect for the Treasury Department from 1915 to 1933. During this time over, 2,000 buildings were designed in his office. Throughout his career, Wetmore encouraged the use of Classically-derived styles for government buildings. The design of the Seattle FOB, a striking example of Moderne Art Deco architectural style, is considerably different from any Classical styled building. (Some have attributed the building's design to Louis A. Simon, who was the Superintendent of the Architectural Section of the Supervising Architect's Office from 1905 to 1933.) The contractor was Murch Construction Company of St. Louis. Murch Construction was also the general contractor for the New Federal (Solomon) Courthouse in Portland, Oregon, constructed in 1931-1933. Regardless of the source of its design, the FOB is architecturally significant as a distinct departure from the more traditional, Neo-Classical style that typified federal buildings in the 19th and early part of the 20th century. Its form is conspicuous with a distinct stepped massing and facades. Architecturally, both Art Deco and Moderne styles of design are represented by the vertical emphasis of the nine storey structure. In the design of the FOB, classical elements of facade composition--base, column and entablature--have been reinterpreted in a 20th century composition. Art Deco qualities of the design are enhanced by the cascading effect provided by light-colored terra cotta decoration applied as vertical fluting to the parapets atop the red brick-faced facades."

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