Columbia Center in Seattle

Photo of Columbia Center in Seattle, Washington
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz
Photo of Columbia Center in Seattle, Washington
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz
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Photo of Columbia Center in Seattle, Washington
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz
Royalty-free architecture stock photography

Columbia Center
Formerly:Bank of America Tower
Formerly:Columbia SeaFirst Center
Formerly:Columbia Center

701 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, Washington
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Though skyscraper fans frequently note this building as Seattle's most famous, to the general public it is somewhat less significant. Certainly the Smith Tower and Pike Place Market are more historically and culturally visible through postcards and tourist materials sent around the world. Still, the Columbia Center is worthy of a significant amount of praise.
It is based on the simple black glass block so popular in the 1970's and 1980's. But in this case, the simple form was made graceful -- elegant through the use of three sweeping arcs of multiple elevations. The Columbia Center manages to break out of the monotony and stand out among the world's great towers. This would have been possible even if it had adhered to conventional design forms. Clocking in at a massive 997 feet, this is a building that demands attention.
Still, its position in the skyline is unfortunate. In picture post cards it is frequently the tall kid in the back of the class on the right who doesn't get noticed as much as the one in the center with the shiny teeth and good posture (Washington Mutual Tower).
It was the Federal Aviation Administration that first took the building down a notch, reducing its design height from 1,005 feet. Whether the eight foot reduction really makes a difference to pilots coming into SeaTac airport is a matter for speculation. But the developers weren't going to lose any money on the deal by reducing the number of floors available for rent. Instead, they simply reduced the ceiling height on each floor by six inches. Perhaps not the most elegant solution, but at least the most practical.

Quick Facts
  • August, 2015: This building was bought by Gaw Capital Partners for $711 million
  • March 2, 1985: This building opened to the public
  • 1998: This building was bought for $404 million
  • July, 2007: The building's name changed from Bank of America Tower back to Columbia Center
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