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Summary for 901 Lenora ST / Parcel ID 0660001310 / Inv #

Historic Name: Office Building for 9th & Lenora Company Common Name: Social Security Administration
Style: Modern Neighborhood: Denny Triangle
Built By: Year Built: 1957
This building was designed by architecture firm of Decker Christiansen and Kitchin in 1957 for the “Ninth and Lenora Company.” In terms of design and construction, it employs many typical Modernist strategies: curtain wall, metal panels, interior staircases exposed as a major elements of the facades, the repetition of elements, the flat roof, which has no visible parapet and not much overhang and the interior grid of steel column sections. The building is a modest, but typical product of late 1950s Modernism. Mainly because of a bad paint job, the building elements of its original design have been obscured, but overall, its appearance has not changed. The building currently houses the Social Security Administration. The firm of Decker Christiansen and Kitchin was well-known in its day. With Bindon and Wright, it designed the 1959 Seattle Public Library, which has since been demolished. The firm of Decker and Christiansen also won awards from the Seattle Chapter of the AIA in the 1950s: a “First Award” for the University Federal Savings and Loan in 1959 and a “National Merit Award” for “Vernell’s Fine Candies” at 1825 Westlake North in 1953.
This is a two story building with an L-shaped plan. Its main facades along Lenora Street and along 9th Avenue are virtual mirror images of each other. The roof is flat, has no parapet, but does have a very tiny overhanging element. The interior structure includes a regular grid of steel column sections, (as is standard, wrapped for reasons of fireproofing in gypsum wall board). The building’s exterior walls consist primarily of curtain wall, which includes repeated, vertical glazed openings, as well as insulated metal panels. Typically, above the sill level, which varies with the grade, the wall elements are arranged in the following manner: at the lowest part of the curtain wall, there is a continuous band of metal paneling, which is consistent from bay to bay. Topping this is a band of taller, fixed, clear glass openings. Above this, is a band of similarly sized metal panels. At the second level, the windows alternate from bay to bay, from fixed, clear glass to the combination of a lower, fixed glass area, which is surmounted by an operable, awning window. The top of the façade ends with a low band of insulated metal panels and the very slight overhang. There is a wider, recessed and glazed entry bay/ stairwell in each of the main facades, which is set asymmetrically within the façade composition. The entry bay/ stairwell element occurs after the tenth curtain wall bay of the Lenora elevation, (counting from the east), and after the tenth bay, (counting from the south), on the 9th Avenue elevation. Each entry is also marked by walls, which are set perpendicular to the curtain wall and are clad in “pumice brick.” According to an historical photo, the building was originally light in color, but is currently painted brown. While the design partially relied on the contrast between elements and materials - metal, glass and brick – the current paint job tends to obscure these contrasting elements.

Detail for 901 Lenora ST / Parcel ID 0660001310 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: INV
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete, Glass - Curtain Wall, Metal Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Professional Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Mixed No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
King County Tax Assessor Records, ca. 1932-1972.
Marga Rose Hancock, “AIA Seattle Honor Awards: projects cited 1950- ,” database available at:

Photo collection for 901 Lenora ST / Parcel ID 0660001310 / Inv #

Photo taken Feb 22, 2006
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