..............   Architecture Around the World

IBM Building
1200 Fifth Avenue at University St., Seattle, Washington

Architect: Minoru Yamasaki
Completed: 1964
InternationalNew Formalism
Height: 20 stories
Distinguishing feature:
Twelve stone arches
Status: LEED gold
Rentable square feet:

Photos taken March 1, 2019

 Photos taken March 1, 2019

12 stone arches

Top of building, which corresponds to a capital in a Classical column  ...    IBM Building's exterior wall structure consists of steel pipe columns with an exterior finish of precast concrete

Aluminum spandrel panels   ...   Detailed below:

Aluminum spandrel panels

12 stone arches which correspond to a base in a Classical column   ...   Note the unique(?) half arches at the ends of the rectangular shape

Unique(?) half arches at the ends of the rectangular shape

Unique(?) half arches at the ends of the rectangular shape

Upper level plaza at side (University St.) of the building   ...   Note lower level plaza with fountain in a few illustrations below

Detail of one of the 12 stone arches   ...   Is this Taconic marble from Vermont that was also used in Yamasaki's M&T Bank in Buffalo

Lower level plaza with fountain, also shown in next illustration:

5th Avenue elevation which includes the main entrance

Unique(?) half arch at the end of the rectangular shape

Entrance lobby features glass ceiling, spiral staircase, and Barcelona chairs

Elegant spiral staircase in the glass enclosed lobby

Barcelona chair

Spiral staircase    ...    Travertine wall cladding

wall cladding

Partial reprint
Seattle's IBM Building was Model for N.Y. Trade Center
By Todd Bishop
Nov. 25, 2001
Puget Sound Business Journal (online March 2019)

A 20-story structure wouldn't ordinarily qualify as a miniature replica of anything. That downtown Seattle's IBM Building does only demonstrates how large New York's World Trade Center towers were.

The IBM Building, at Fifth Avenue and Seneca Street, was designed in the early 1960s by Minoru Yamasaki, the Seattle native better known as the lead architect of the World Trade Center complex. The structure of the New York towers, in fact, was derived from the Seattle building.

Another piece of that legacy is a short walk away. At the corner of Fifth Avenue and University Street is the

a 40-story building that Yamasaki was commissioned to design in 1972. The building is recognizable for its pedestal base.

Elsewhere in Seattle,
Yamasaki also designed the Pacific Science Center, which originally served as the U.S. Science Pavilion during the 1962 World's Fair.

But it is the IBM Building - whose design comes closest to the landmark New York towers - for which the late architect was famous. The building, like Rainier Tower, is owned by the University of Washington and managed by Unico Properties Inc. It is part of the Metropolitan Tract, the group of office and retail properties owned by the university in downtown Seattle.

Yamasaki was commissioned to design the building in 1962.

... the IBM Building's exterior wall structure consists of steel pipe columns with an exterior finish of precast concrete.

Seattle-born and UW-educated Minoru Yamasaki is the local boy who made good, the first Seattle architect to build an international reputation. His local work is a decidedly mixed bag, however.

Downtown two Yamasaki high-rises face off across Fifth Avenue and University Street, each with a gigantic gesture at its base that tries to solve the problem of how to make a skyscraper hit the street with something other than a colossal thud and also humanize the plaza space around it.

He encircled the 1964 Union Bank Building (originally the IBM Building) with a loggia of gigantic arches, and in 1977 positioned the Rainier Tower atop a concrete base tapering like a wineglass stem, seemingly defying gravity and the quakes of our future. But, in both cases, the towers themselves are so routinely ordinary, and the public spaces under their grand gestures so oppressively bleak, that the buildings are difficult to like.
- Lawrence W. Cheek, What modern architecture is worth saving in Seattle?  (online March 2019)

See also:

M&T, Buffalo

Photos and their arrangement 2019 Chuck LaChiusa
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