DOWNTOWN TOURS

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DOWNTOWN TOURS

Our Downtown tours begin in various locations. Please review your confirmation email to ensure that you have the right address. Most downtown tours are approximately two hours in length, unless otherwise noted below. Advance registration is strongly encouraged; walk-ups are limited to space available. Private tours are also available, email info@seattlearchitecture.org for more information. Tours are $18 in advance/$10 for members/$25 cash, day of event. Online registration is handled through Bold Type Tickets. For more information see our Tours FAQ page.

Diamonds & Gold: The Art Deco Skyscraper Northwest Style

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Take a trip back in time to the Roaring 20s. Following the horrors of World War I, architects began fusing modern structural advances with beautiful, lively, organic designs to create the style known as Art Deco. On this tour, we’ll go back in time to visit lush lobbies and ornate commercial buildings to learn how technology, archeology and French design influences some of Seattle’s most impressive buildings. You’ll discover diamonds and gold. And you’ll see how Northwest imagery was incorporated into the Deco elegance and innovation of these architectural gems. Featured stops Exchange Building, the Seattle Tower and Washington Athletic Club.

This tour will leave from inside the Fairmont Olympic Hotel Lobby at 411 University St, Seattle, WA 98101

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Greatest Hits: Chart Toppers and Heart-Stoppers

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It’s a new riff on the city as we focus on the construction, context, and culture which shaped our skyline, from golden oldies like Kirtland Cutter’s Rainier Club to popular favorites like the Rem Koolhaas’ asymmetric, cantilevered Central Library. You’ll develop an appreciation for the social forces which shaped Seattle and our built environment. Featured stops include the Fifth & Madison Condominium/901 Fifth Avenue Plaza and Seattle City Hall.


This tour will leave from inside the Fairmont Olympic Hotel Lobby at 411 University St, Seattle, WA 98101

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Architecture 101: Windows on Seattle’s Style

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Is God really in the details? Find out as we focus on design elements of buildings ranging from English Gothic to Brutalism and from Beaux Arts to Modernism. Construction techniques, trends in aesthetics and functional considerations of windows and views contributed to these structures. You will explore how the use and incorporation of glass reflects changing societal trends. Featured stops include the Financial Center, the Plymouth Congregational Church and the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.

This tour will leave from inside the Fairmont Olympic Hotel Lobby at 411 University St, Seattle, WA 98101

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Design Details: Lions, Griffins & Walruses, Oh My!

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Engineering makes a building stand up, but intricate adornments and elaborate embellishments makes one stand out. Take a walk through Seattle’s design history by taking a close look at the details that give a building its personality. Develop an appreciation for and understanding of materials from types of stone, terra cotta, bricks, and metals, and how an architect’s decisions add to the overall character of the structure. Featured stops include the Arctic Club, Cobb Building and Smith Tower.

This tour will leave from inside the Fairmont Olympic Hotel Lobby at 411 University St, Seattle, WA 98101

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Art + Architecture: Let the Streets be Your Museum!

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Experience the best of public and privately funded art. From hatch covers to fountains to sculpture, Seattle’s collection is a diverse civic resource that makes art an integral part of our daily lives. This tour will educate you about development and implementation of public art programs and their integration into architecture, interior and landscape design. Featured stops include Freeway Park and the Washington State Convention and Trade Center.

This tour will leave from inside the Fairmont Olympic Hotel Lobby at 411 University St, Seattle, WA 98101

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Pioneer Square: Wilderness to Metropolis

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The history of Seattle reads like a funky fairy tale on the brick facades of these hallowed blocks. Stand on the spot where our city fathers waded ashore to found their metropolis. Wander back and forth across the line that once separated polite society from one of America’s most notorious vice districts. Through a gold rush, a Great Fire, and too many re-births to count, Pioneer Square has remained at the heart of Seattle’s identity. And now, with a new crop of chefs, entrepreneurs, developers, and community groups all staking their claims, Pioneer Square is preparing to absorb yet another layer of Seattle’s story.

Pioneer Square tours have concluded for 2017. Will resume in spring 2018.

This tour starts at Cafe Umbria 320 Occidental Ave S Seattle, WA 98104.

High Ambitions: Concrete, Steel, Glass & Egos

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Take a closer look at the buildings that define Seattle’s skyline from the Post-Modernism of the 1980s to 21st-Century Contemporary, learn about changing styles as well as emerging trends such as green architecture, the adaptive re-use of historic buildings, and the increase in high-rise condominiums downtown. Featured buildings include: U.S. Federal Courthouse, Westin Hotel, Olive 8, Seattle Sheraton Hotel, One & Two Union Square, U.S. Bank Center, IBM Plaza, Rainier Square, Safeco Plaza, Union Bank of CA and Fifth and Madison condos, and the Bank of America Tower.

This tour starts at Smith Tower 506 2nd Ave Seattle, WA 98104.

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Hidden Spaces/Public Places: Private Property + Public Amenity = Additional Development Rights

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Explore some of downtown’s hidden treasures, like public parks, plazas and open spaces. Many of these spaces are owned by private developers but are in fact places where you can enjoy beautiful landscapes and private art collections away from the hustle and bustle of city streets.

This tour starts at City Centre (NW corner of lobby at 5th Ave and Pike St) 1420 5th Ave Seattle, WA 98101.The tour group will meet in the northwest area of the building’s lobby at 10 a.m.

Hidden Spaces/Public Places also features a number of stairs and concludes at the Harbor Steps. Please let your guide know if you, or another member of your party, have any restrictions.


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photo_retail_bookcover The book, Seattle Architecture: A Walking Guide to Downtown, is available at the following locations:
    • SAF Gallery
    • Peter Miller Books
    • Watson Kennedy — Purveyor of Fine Goods
    • “Made in Washington” Stores
    • Most bookstores
Follow this link for more information. Distribution by University of Washington Press ISBN 13: 978-0-615-14129-9

ADDRESS

Center for Architecture and Design
1010 Western Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206.667.9184

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8 hours ago
Watch: Crews hoist 28,000 pound construction platform up around the Space Needle

Check out this KOMO News article about the #SpaceNeedle remodel which will feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a glass-floored oculus. Then come by the Center for Architecture & Design to ... See more

SEATTLE -- How do you remodel the Space Needle's observation and restaurant decks some 500 feet high in the sky? By building one of the largest scaffolding rings ever in a ring around the landmark ... See more

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14 hours ago
Photos from Seattle Architecture Foundation's post

Our 2017 Design Soiree Series is going on through November and you are invited to come enjoy and explore some of Seattle's most interesting homes, design studios and other spaces that are not usually ... See more

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2 days ago
Photos: Bitter Lake’s Playland brought amusement to Seattle from 1930 to ’60s

Most of us remember Luna Park and the Fun Forest, but long before the Seattle Center housed these amusement parks Bitter Lake had its own short lived amusement park.

Our October youth design ... See more

The amusement park on the shores of Bitter Lake lasted for three decades.

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3 days ago

Join us on our Design Details Tour: Lions, Griffins, & Walruses, Oh My! this Saturday September 23rd at 10am and develop an appreciation of the intricate details and embellishments of some of ... See more

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5 days ago
Greatest Hits Tour: Chart Toppers and Heart-Stoppers Tickets | Fairmont Olympic Hotel Lobby | Seattle, WA | September 17, 2017 | Seattle Architecture

Sunday's 1 pm Greatest Hits Tour is part of the Seattle Design Festival and you can join for free with the #Power pass. No code needed, just sign up online by 10 pm tonight -- but soon, as there are ... See more

This tour is a program of the 2017 Seattle Design Festival.It’s a new riff on the city as we focus on the construction, context, and culture which shaped our skyline, from golden oldies like ... See more

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1 week ago

Thanks to all the folks that made it to the Opening Reception for our Annual Architectural Model Exhibit last night. We hope you all had a fabulous time!

Be sure to come by and take a closer look in ... See more

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1 week ago
Seattle Design Festival

All day today and tomorrow, enjoy design and the many ways it improves our lives! #SDF2017

Thanks so much for the great sketch of the Mighty House installation Gabi Campanario, aka Seattle Sketcher!! Come see this great collaborative project between Miller/Hull Partnership 118 Designs and ... See more

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1 week ago
Nearly 10,000 windows to wash at Seattle Central Library

Did you know that washing the nearly 10,000 windows at the Seattle Central Library is a three-week project?

Check out the Seattle Central Library and other incredible structures on our Greatest Hits ... See more

Window washers are in the final wash drop of a three-week project to clean almost 10,000 windows of the Seattle Public Library Central Facility in downtown Seattle.

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2 weeks ago
5 Awesome Seattle Design Fest Events for Families

So much happening this weekend! We are super excited for the Seattle Design Festival to kick off! Design fun for the whole family! Thanks ParentMap for highlighting our youth workshop and model ... See more

Interactive activities get kids in touch with design

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2 weeks ago
There’s more to Seattle architecture than meets the eye

Thanks to the The Seattle Times Pacific NW Magazine for putting a spotlight on Seattle's architectural beauty! SAF is so pleased to be included in this in-depth piece and remind people to take time ... See more

Our city’s most beautiful buildings speak to who, and where, we are.

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