Home Page
Link to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods home page

Seattle Historical Sites

New Search

Summary for 4000 15TH AVE / Parcel ID / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Kane Hall Common Name: Kane Hall
Style: Modern - Brutalism Neighborhood: University
Built By: Year Built: 1974
In early 1967, the Regents, following a recommendation by the University of Washington Architects’ Commission, approved a new classroom/lecture hall/auditorium building, undergraduate library, and performing arts center. This followed a development plan by Kirk, Wallace McKinley & Associates that had been approved a year earlier. All three buildings would be situated over a 1,000-car parking garage with its exhaust carried out by a tall bell tower (Seattle Times, February 14, 1967). 

This approval was followed by the allotment of $7.6 million in state funds, which was approved by the legislature, for capital construction to include the new classroom/lecture hall. In addition, the building was funded with $2.6 million from Referendum 15, which voters approved in November. To expedite the construction of the buildings and central plaza, a single general contractor was selected by the University of Washington, Sellen Construction of Seattle. The construction cost for the buildings and garage and associated road relocation was estimated at $16 million (Seattle Times, June 12, 1968). 

In 1971, Kane Hall was completed, at a cost of $4,414,777, along with the garage, followed by the new Undergraduate Library, which opened in 1972 (Johnston, pp. 113 -115). Kane Hall was the first of three Modern era buildings to be located on the Central Plaza, followed by the construction of a new undergraduate library in 1972 (later named Odegaard Undergraduate Library at the retirement of University President Charles Odegaard, and known as the UGL) and Meany Hall (1974). The new open space in front of Suzzallo Library was developed as a four-plus level underground parking garage with a paved plaza above, along with this collection of new surrounding buildings, which were conceived of to complement the original Gothic Revival style library (first phase 1926) and the Administration Building (Gerberding Hall, 1949). Construction of the new central plaza was allowed after the 1965 demolition of the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition theater, Meany Hall, following damage to it from a major earthquake in 1964. 

Kane Hall was designed by the Spokane architectural and engineering firm Walker & McGough.

Other projects by Walker & McGough include Padelford Hall and Garage (1967) and the Plant Services Building (1963) on the University of Washington campus, the Federal Courthouse and Office Building, Spokane (1966-1968, with Royal McClure and others), and a number of correction facilities throughout Washington state. The firm’s design of the Convent of the Holy Names project was cited as the project of the year by Progressive Architecture in 1967. Walker McGough continued to work on the University of Washington campus after completion of the campus plan in 1968, which was led by partner, Robert J. Nixon.

The central quad received accolades from the local Board of Realtors for its design (Seattle Times, December 2, 1973). Both the nearby Odegaard Undergraduate Library and Meany Theater, the performing arts center, later won AIA design awards. 

Kane Hall is part of a building assembly, along with the Central Quad. Together they represent the late mid-century history of the University of Washington development and Brutalist style architecture. Designed by well-known architects, Kane and Meany Halls and the Odegaard Library appear to meet the listing criteria of the National Register of Historic Places as a potential historic district.


“Brutalism,” Circa Design, (accessed October 17, 2016). 

Davis, Glen Warren, “McClure & Adkinson + Walker McGough, Architects of a Modern Vision,” 1947-1969, Spokane Mid Century blog, (accessed November 22, 2016).

Johnston, Norman J. The Fountain & the Mountain: The University of Washington Campus, 1895 - 1995. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995, pp. 67, 103, 111-113, 116-117.

Michelson, Alan. Pacific Coast, “John Witt McGough, PCAD id 2566,” (accessed November 22, 2016).

Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects, 2nd ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014, p. 494.

Seattle Times.

“3 Units Proposed for U.W.’s New Suzzallo Quadrangle,” Seattle Times, February 14, 1967, “Focus on Olympia – University Funds,” March 7, 1967, p. 8.

“Come Home Alumni,” November 10, 1968, p. 8.

“For Contractors – U.W. To Explain Quad Project,” June 12, 1968, p. 32.

Emery, Julia, “U.W. planning $24.5 million in new buildings,” January 3, 1971, p. 27. 

“Real Estate … tops realtor awards,” December 2, 1973, p. E5. 

University of Washington Libraries. Manuscripts and Special Collections. Digital Photo Collections.

University of Washington, UW-IT Classrooms, “Kane Hall,” (accessed November 3, 2016).
Kane Hall is situated in a prominent location at the north side of the central plaza, Red Square, with the University of Washington’s undergraduate library nearby at the northwest corner and Suzzallo Library to the east. Located on the northern edge of Red Square, it offers a variety of lecture spaces, including five auditoria, a reception room, and a small conference room. 

Collegiate Gothic style buildings on the campus date back to the Regents Plan of 1915. This style persisted, with some variation, into the immediate post-war era of the 1940s. The Brutalist style embodied in Kane Hall stands in clear contrast to the earlier style, which is evident in the architecture of Suzzallo Library and Gerberding Hall. This is especially the case with Kane Hall. 

As with the other two buildings, it was a large flat roof concrete structure with a simple massing and few windows. The overall form of the building, an irregular wedge-shape brick-clad mass with a rectangular colonnade of cast concrete along its primary south façade, expresses the interior functions. Detailing relies on the material qualities of the smooth red brick veneer and exposed cast-in-place concrete. 

The building contains two tall stories above the grade of the adjacent plaza, and an underground level with service spaces. Elevators and stairs allow for direct access from the 1,000-vehicle Central Parking Garage (University of Washington, UW-IT Classrooms, “Kane Hall”). Three of the lecture halls contain seating for 230 and 245, while the largest auditoria – Rooms 120 and 130 –contain 440 and 720 seats respectively in tall banked spaces, one with a balcony. These rooms have acoustic treatment to accommodate musical presentations, as well as lectures. 

The building’s primary facade faces southwest and features a cast-in-place concrete loggia, supported on heavy piers, with tall windows above. The space within it provides public circulation for large numbers. The volume level rises in places from the first floor to the underside of the roof with wide stairs at each end and bridges at the second floor leading across a void to reach the lecture halls on the north side of the primary corridor. On the upper floor a large mural, by American-Mexican artist Pablo O’Higgins, is hung on the north wall. Across from it, on the south side of the building, is the Walker Ames Room, a large reception space and adjacent conference room.

Detail for 4000 15TH AVE / Parcel ID / Inv # 0

Classication: District Status: NR, NR, NR
Cladding(s): Foundation(s):
Roof Type(s): Roof Material(s):
Building Type: Education - College Plan:
Structural System: No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Education
Major Bibliographic References

Photo collection for 4000 15TH AVE / Parcel ID / Inv # 0

Photo taken Jun 22, 2016
App v2.0.1.0