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Built Seattle: standout buildings and city views

The city of Seattle is rich with architectural masterpieces in both the downtown core and residential areas. Take some time during MLA’17 to see some of the many buildings in Seattle that rise high and stand out, from iconic historical sites to one-of-a-kind works of art made for work and play.

The Smith Tower, is the oldest skyscraper in the city and was, until 1931, the tallest office building west of the Mississippi River. The famed "Wishing Chair” tower remains in the thirty-fifth floor observatory and is a popular spot for visitor selfies. Rumor has it that if you're single and you sit in the chair, you'll be married within the year!         Smith Tower.jpg    
The standout feature of Rainier Tower, a 41-story skyscraper built in 1977,  is it’s base: locals often refer to it as the "beaver building" because its physical appearance looks like a tree being felled by a beaver. Rainier_Tower_in_Seattle.jpg
One of Seattle’s most colorful buildings was inspired by the energy and fluidity of music. The MoPop Building, designed by Frank O. Gehry,  is home to the Museum of Pop Culture (formerly EMP Museum). If this building’s 400 tons of structural steel were stretched into the tightest banjo string, it would extend one-fourth of the way to Venus. MoPOP.jpg


The main branch of the Seattle Public Library was named one of the favorite structures in the country by the American Institute of Architects. This 11-story library designed by architect Rem Koolhaas sits in the heart of downtown. Venture inside to check out the airy third-floor “living room,” the Dewey Decimal–inspired book spiral, and the scarlet-red hallways on level four and the views of Elliott Bay from level 10.

Seattle Public Library.jpg
Seattle Tower (Northern Life Tower) is the city’s quintessential art deco skyscraper. The grand lobby, faced in dark marble, is home to a huge bas-relief map of the Pacific Ocean surrounded by continents and islands outlining the Pacific trade routes. Seattle_Northern_Life_04 (489x800).jpg
You’ll likely see the marquee for the The Paramount Theatre, built in 1928, as you stroll around the conference area. The theatre, originally built for showing films and hosting vaudeville acts, has hosted Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, Madonna, Heart, and many others. However, the real star of this theatre is the original installation Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ, one of only three organs remaining of this style. Paramount theater seattle.jpg


For the price of a short elevator ride in some of these buildings, you may (on a clear day) be rewarded with a beautiful skyline and view  one of Washington’s volcanoes. If you’re aiming high but still deciding on the Space Needle or Columbia Tower for views, we have some ideas for you.

Check out the MLA 2017 Local Attractions guide or stop by the hospitality booth for more recommendations of places to see and be in Seattle this spring.  We look forward to seeing you in Seattle for MLA ’17!


Submitted by Emily Glenn, MLA ’17 Local Arrangements Committee

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