This office building complex was designed by Durham Anderson Freed, AIA Architects for an ownership group called Westlake Investors. It was completed in 1971 and originally called the Northwest Construction Center (City of Seattle Building Permit dated April 1, 1969) and housed Rainier National Bank. The building was acquired by Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Washington through a Quit Claim Deed in 1984 (King County Tax Assessor’s Records, accessed online 8/25/2014). The building serves as AGC of Washingoton’s Seattle headquarters and provides office space to numerous other commercial tenants. AGC of Washington is the state’s largest trade association, representing and serving the commercial-construction industry. AGC of Washington has more than 600 member companies, 172 of which are general contractors, and has significant programs involving government and labor relations, group insurance, workplace safety, workforce development and more. Headquartered in Seattle, with offices in Bellingham, Fife, Olympia and Yakima, AGC of Washington is a professional association of commercial contractors who join together to enhance the performance and representation of members, to promote the respect and integrity of the industry, and to improve the quality of life in our communities. AGC of Washington is one of 96 chapters of AGC of America (AGCWA Website: http://www.agcwa.com/.)
The architectural firm of Durham Anderson Freed, Co., designed numerous reinforced concrete buildings and structures in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, including the mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Seattle (Seattle Times, June 27, 1954), a 21-story addition to the Anchorage Westward Hotel (Seattle Times, Feb. 22, 1970), the Seattle and Mercer Island segment of Interstate-90 (March 23, 1972), a new library for Evergreen College in Olympia (Seattle Times, Sept. 24, 1972, p. 92) and the US-Canada border station at Blaine, WA (Seattle Times, June 8, 1975). The firm was frequently honored for its designs utilizing concrete, receiving a “Best Use of Concrete” award from the Washington Aggregate & Concrete Association for the Evergreen College Library and acknowledged as project architects for an American Institute of Architects “Excellence in Community Architecture” award, given to the State Highway Department for the design of the Interstate 90 Seattle and Mercer Island segment (Seattle Times, Sept. 24, 1972, p. 92 and Oct. 28, 1973, p. 26). The firm also designed commercial and institutional buildings, including numerous bank branches and churches.
This reinforced concrete building remains largely intact, displaying many design characteristics indicative of the Brutalist style. The term Brutalism was coined in 1953 to describe the architectural work of a group of British architects. In its early phase, Brutalism was initially a design philosophy, not a style. The idea was to create an aesthetic based on the exposure of a building’s components: its frame, its sheathing, and its mechanical systems. Quickly however the term began to be applied to buildings that utilized monumental concrete forms and bulky massing. The term Brutalism is derived from the French word for rough concrete or “beton brut”. Brutalist structures have a heavy mass and scale. Broad surfaces are often interrupted by deep-shadow penetrations of the buildings mass; vertical slots may contrast with broad oblong openings or tall openings with horizontal slots, while “egg-crate” effects are also much employed. The exterior treatment, as the name suggests, is usually exposed concrete, which is left rough to show the wooden formwork. However some examples of brick and stucco can be found. Fixed windows are set deep into the walls and are often small in relation to the size of the structure. Other common features include the use of “Waffle” slabs for floor and roof systems. As the name implies this cast-in-place building system utilized continuous pour of concrete with a coffered underside to reduce the weight of the slab. Such slabs were often left exposed. (Credit: Houser, Michael, “Brutalism 1955-1980,” Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, http://www.dahp.wa.gov/styles/brutalism.)
This building displays the following Brutalist characteristics: a heavy, blocky appearing mass and scale, reinforced concrete structural system exposed on the exterior with a waffle slab floor system (as evidenced in the ceiling of the covered parking) and deep-shadow penetrations of the building mass.
Seattle Times Archives, “Hotel Addition Set,” Feb. 22, 1970, p. 67.
Seattle Times Archives, “Fulfillment of a Dream…and a Wonderful Addition to Seattle: The New Forest Lawn Mausoleum,” (building dedication announcement), June 27, 1954, p. 24.
Seattle Times Archives, “Highway Department Cited for Design of Interstate 90,” March 23, 1972, p. 19.
Seattle Times Archives, “Best Use of Concrete,” Sept. 24, 1972, p. 92.
Collins, Alf, “Cementing the Relationship,” Seattle Times Archives, Feb. 18, 1973, p. 82.
Seattle Times Archives, “Meriti Exhibition Awards by A.I.A.,” Oct. 28, 1973, p. 26.
Seattle Times Archives “3 Seafirst Branches Under Construction,” Oct. 20, 1974, p. 59.
Seattle Times Archives, “Silverdale Bank Underway,” Nov. 10, 1974 p. 54.
Seattle Times Archives, “Border State Bids Due,” June 8, 1975, p. 41.
Michael Houser, “Brutalism 1955-1980,” Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, http://www.dahp.wa.gov/styles/brutalism.