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Summary for 305 Harrison ST / Parcel ID 1985200003 / Inv # CTR016

Historic Name: International Commerce & Industry Buildings Common Name: Coliseum North Court Rooms/Northwest Rooms
Style: Modern Neighborhood: Queen Anne
Built By: Year Built: 1962
This complex of meeting rooms consists of four connected buildings built in 1961-62 as part of the complex of International Commerce & Industry Buildings surrounding the Washington State Coliseum. This area was known as the International Plaza while another grouping of buildings to the north was called the International Mall. The fair’s primary architect, Paul Thiry, designed both the Coliseum and the buildings surrounding it. Unlike some of the other buildings in this complex, this facility was constructed as a permanent building for continued use after the completion of the fair. In keeping with the fair’s emphasis on science and technology, the five Worlds of Century 21 included the World of Commerce and Industry, which would showcase national and international achievements in commerce and industry since the dawn of the Space Age. With funding from King County, the fair’s organizers, Century 21 Exposition, Inc., built rent-free exhibit space as an enticement for foreign nations to participate in the fair. The exhibits would combine a hodgepodge of lofty ideals for the future and merchandise available for sale in the present. Grouped by nation of origin rather than by other categories, the official government displays were to exhibit the country’s latest industrial discoveries and commercial achievements. The participants were also encouraged to present their plans for dealing with the problems envisioned for the future. Finally, they were invited to show off their more popular trading goods as well as their national tourist attractions. Early on in their planning efforts, the organizers had believed that international participation was essential for a successful fair. It would also increase Seattle’s profile and prestige to host an official world’s fair. In order to receive this designation, the organizers had to submit a formal bid to the Paris-based Bureau of International Expositions. The Paris Convention of 1928 had established the Bureau of International Expositions to regulate the conduct and scheduling of international expositions in which foreign nations were officially invited to participate. Under the rules of the organization, member nations could not ordinarily participate in an international exposition unless the Bureau had approved the exposition. There were difficulties inherent in the process, including the fact that the United States was not a member of the organization at that time and would not become one until April 1968. Many of the members also had no idea where Seattle was located or even how to pronounce it correctly. Despite the difficulties, the Bureau officially approved Seattle’s bid to host a world’s fair in November 1960, paving the way for foreign participation. Designation as a world’s fair did not ensure foreign exhibitors, especially with the planned fair in New York in 1964 on the horizon. With the offer of rent-free exhibit space, however, the organizers eventually attracted fourteen foreign governments, an alliance, and several international groups. The governmental exhibitors included the countries of Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Philippines, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Sweden, Thailand, and the United Arab Republic. Obviously, this list did not include any of our Cold War enemies of that time. The European Community, the six-nation trade organization known as the Common Market, included Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Several international groups also participated, including a consortium of newly independent African nations, the American Committee of the United Nations, San Marino, and the City of Berlin. During the fair, this facility contained the pavilions of the governments of the United Arab Republic, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Canada, and Denmark, and of the European Community. After the conclusion of the fair in October 1962, the facility was converted to exhibit and meeting space, and eventually became known as the Northwest Rooms. This building is significant for its associations with the Seattle World’s Fair Century 21 Exposition and with the development of Seattle Center.
Completed in 1962, this one and two-story concrete and steel frame structure occupies the northwest corner of the Seattle Center at the intersection of 1st Avenue North and Republican Street. This L-plan complex is arranged around an interior courtyard with upper and lower plaza levels bordering Key Arena to the south. Benches, public art, fountains, and attractive landscaping beautify the two levels connected by a set of stairs, which runs along the inner south elevation of the complex. Originally, four separate structures comprised the building’s L-shaped footprint, which measured 572 feet by 241 feet along the outer margins. A continuous overhanging flat roof with exposed trusses covered the entire structure. The perpendicular block at the western end measured 241 feet by 70 feet. The smaller block adjoining the northern end of this block’s east elevation measured 110 feet by 70 feet. The next block on the longer axis measured 130 feet by 70 feet, while the final and largest block at the eastern end measured 261 feet by 70 feet. This block at the eastern end also had a lower basement level, which measured 30 feet by 70 feet. Since the Seattle World’s Fair Century 21 Exposition, substantial renovations have been made as part of its conversion to the Northwest Rooms. While the basic footprint and exposed concrete frame remain intact, the window and door openings on the inner south and east elevations have been altered, and the interior layouts have been reconfigured. This includes the insertion of a wide covered breezeway through the midpoint of the longer axis and a narrower one towards the eastern end. This created three new blocks along this axis. Currently the block at the western end contains the Rainier and Olympic Rooms. The adjoining San Juan Suite has the Orcas, Lopez, Fidalgo, and Shaw Rooms. Both of these blocks open onto the upper level. Situated at the lower level, the block on the eastern side of the breezeway contains the Snoqualmie Room, while the Alki Room occupies the block at the eastern end of the complex. As part of the renovations, an upper floor was also constructed within the eastern end of the block containing the Alki Room. Two-story window openings above a wide band of concrete line the entire east elevation of this easternmost block and most of the north and south elevations. Solid panels fill the transom window openings below the roofline and between the narrow concrete piers. Concrete panels, some embellished with a decorative pattern, fill the remaining bays on the north and south elevations. Glass screens with metal frames are attached along the upper portion of the window openings about two feet from the building. Metal panels cover the west elevation, which faces onto the narrower breezeway. The outer south, west and north elevations of the three remaining blocks are covered by concrete panels embellished with the same decorative treatment. With the exception of the two breezeways on the north elevation, these walls have no other window or door openings. A fanciful metal canopy projects over the entrance to the wider breezeway on the north elevation. The inner east elevation of the western block has metal panels between the concrete piers at the southern end. At the northern end of this elevation, a glassed in lobby has been recessed behind the original concrete piers of the façade. Metal panels fill the upper portion of the openings below the roofline. The lobby is situated between the Rainier and Olympic Rooms at either end of the block. The inner south elevation of the block containing the San Juan Suite has glassed in walls below the metal panels in the upper portion and between the concrete piers. The inner south elevation of the remaining block, which houses the Snoqualmie Room, has a wall of half-height windows below a band of metal panels. This wall is recessed behind the original concrete piers of the façade, creating a covered walkway between the two breezeways. Metal panels cover the east and west elevations, which face onto the adjacent breezeways. Due to the extensive alterations, this well-maintained building retains poor physical integrity.

Detail for 305 Harrison ST / Parcel ID 1985200003 / Inv # CTR016

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete, Metal Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Recreation and Culture - Museum Plan: L-Shape
Structural System: Steel No. of Stories: three
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Arts, Commerce, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Plan: Extensive
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Changes to Original Cladding: Extensive
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Architecture/West. An Architect's Guidebook to the Seattle World's Fair, 1962. Seattle, WA: Pacific Builder and Engineer, v. 68, no. 4, April 1962.
Morgan, Murray. Century 21, The Story of the Seattle World's Fair, 1962. Seattle, WA: Acme Press, distributed by University of Washington Press, 1963.
Official Guide Book Seattle Worlds Fair 1962. Seattle, WA: Acme Publications Incorporated, c1962.

Photo collection for 305 Harrison ST / Parcel ID 1985200003 / Inv # CTR016

Photo taken Nov 14, 2000

Photo taken Nov 14, 2000
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