Seattle Architecture Tour

The Space Needle might stand out from Seattle's skyline, but there is more to the local architecture than the city's best known structure. These buildings are Seattle's architectural treasures, for their history, their designer or just their unique look--some hidden away in outlying neighborhoods, others declaring their greatness by standing out amongst the crowded downtown blocks. Read on for a tour of architecturally stunning structures that are sure to please visitors and locals alike.

Updated: September 27, 2010

Seattle Architecture: Famous Architects


Seattle Public Library

1000 Fourth Ave, Seattle, WA 98104

Rem Koolhaas designed the Central Library, which was built in 2004. The glass-and-steel building stands out in downtown Seattle with its striking modern architecture. The building was designed not only to be a fabulous library, but also to be a welcoming and inviting place for all to enter.


Experience Music Project

2901 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98101

The EMP's Frank Gehry-designed building stands out like a rainbow twinkle in the otherwise drab Seattle skyline. The building was designed, reportedly, to look like Jimi Hendrix's guitar. Other rumors attribute the design to a combination of rock music and psychedelic drugs. The structure that houses the two museums is the subject of much love/hate debate amongst Seattleites and visitors to the museums.


Seattle Architecture: Relgious Structures


St Spiridon Cathedral-Orthodox

1310 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109

This Russian Orthodox church nestled into the modern world of Cascade condominiums stands out with its big blue onion domes and golden crosses. A relic of when this was an immigrant neighborhood full of laundry workers, the striking building is still in use for English and occasionally Slavic language services.


Islamic Idriss Mosque

1420 NE Northgate Way, Seattle, WA 98125

This beautiful mosque stands out in residential Pinehurst. The desert colors and tall spire mark the building, which was the first mosque west of the Mississippi to be built in a Middle Eastern design (in 1981).


Seattle Architecture: Historic Buildings


Smith Tower

506 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104

Smith Tower was at one point the tallest building west of the Mississippi, though modern skyscrapers were quick to revoke the honor. The building still offers a great view of downtown Seattle and Pioneer Square from its observation deck.


Historic Panama Hotel Tea & Coffee House

605 1/2 S Main St, Seattle, WA 98104

This historic hotel dates from the early 20th century when this part of town was known as Japantown. When Japanese were forced into internment camps, the Panama is where many stored their stuff. The hotel and its wonderful tea room offer a step into local immigrant history.


Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle Seattle Hotels

411 University St, Seattle, WA 98101

Built in 1924 in the architectural style of the Italian Renaissance, the hotel sits on the original site of the University of Washington. Among the first places in the city for lavish social gatherings, it continues to emit opulence and style in the center of downtown.