Home Page
Link to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods home page

Seattle Historical Sites

New Search

Summary for 305 Harrison ST / Parcel ID 1985200003 / Inv # CTR017

Historic Name: Great Britain Pavilion, International Commerce & Industry Buildings Common Name: Seattle Art Museum Pavilion/Seattle Center Pavilion
Style: Modern Neighborhood: Queen Anne
Built By: Year Built: 1962
The eastern half of this facility was constructed 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 building contained the Government of Great Britain Pavilion. After the conclusion of the fair in October 1962, the building was leased to the Seattle Art Museum for a modern art pavilion. Occupying the adjacent Flag Pavilion, the Treasures of Tutankhamun Exhibition, which lasted from July 15 to November 15, 1978, was one of the highlights of the art museum’s tenure at the Seattle Center. The Seattle Art Museum Pavilion remained in this location until the construction of the new downtown Seattle Art Museum in 1991. Upon the departure of the art museum, the building was redeveloped as a meeting and exhibit facility with the addition of the large western portion. 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-story concrete and steel frame structure occupies a site at the southwest corner of the Seattle Center, which would have been at the northwest corner of the intersection of 2nd Avenue North and Thomas Street. Originally, this building featured a rectangular plan, which measured 152 feet by 70 feet. At the northwest corner, it was connected to another exhibit building at a slightly lower level, which measured 111 feet by 31 feet. In the mid-1990s, the building acquired its present L-shaped footprint when the western half of the adjacent building was demolished and a large addition constructed along its remaining north elevation. On both portions, the overhanging flat roof has exposed trusses. The north and south elevations of the original building have fifteen structural bays while the east and west have seven. On the principal north elevation, a full height window wall originally filled all but the four western bays, which were covered by plain concrete panels. The window openings in the bay at the eastern end have been filled below the narrow transoms at the top. The window wall contains two double entrance doors centered within the eastern and western halves of the elevation. A large freestanding concrete canopy, which measures 60 feet by 17 feet, covers the eastern entrance. This flat roof structure was constructed in 1965. Seven concrete panels separated by incised lines cover the east elevation of the original building with no window or door openings. The center five panels feature a decorative pattern in the concrete. The south elevation has eleven embellished panels between the two plain panels at each end. A stairwell at the eastern end of the elevation leads down to a basement level entrance. The west elevation of the original building has seven plain panels and a double door entrance at the basement level. Decorative concrete panels connect this building with the second and third story levels of the adjacent structure to the west. The block connected at the northwest corner has a similar decorative treatment on the north and west elevations. The north elevation has seven embellished panels but no openings. On the west elevation, the 1990s addition has eight embellished panels while the remaining portion of the slightly lower earlier building has three. A recessed loading dock lines the ground floor level of half the later addition and the full length of the earlier section. The east elevation of this block has a double door entrance within the glassed in lobby located in the original portion at the southern end. Two additional entrances are situated near either end of the 1990s addition, which otherwise presents a blank wall on this elevation. Well maintained, this highly altered building has poor physical integrity.

Detail for 305 Harrison ST / Parcel ID 1985200003 / Inv # CTR017

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete, Stucco 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: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Arts, Commerce, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Windows: Slight
Changes to Plan: Slight
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 # CTR017

Photo taken Oct 30, 2000
App v2.0.1.0