One of my favorite drives through Seattle is 5th Avenue. I love the storefront windows and the mix of buildings both old and new and the trees that line both sides of the street. I equate my feelings as inspired cosmopolitan and it feels very human in scale.
I usually enjoy this ride after I’ve been to our HQ at 818 Stewart Street. There are shorter ways to get to Interstate 5 from here, but I love driving through town following the Monorail past Nordstroms and Westlake Center, the IBM Tower, the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, the Rainier Tower, the Hotel Vintage Park, the Seattle Library, then turn left at the Columbia Tower on Cherry Street for the Freeway.
It wasn’t until a few years ago I put it together that a few of my favorite iconic buildings in Seattle were designed by Minoru Yamasaki. Three buildings in particular I hold high regard are the Pacific Science Center, built for the Century 21 Exposition (1962 Seattle World’s Fair), the IBM Building (1964), and the Rainier Tower (1977, affectionately referred to as 'the pencil' by locals).
Yamasaki was born here in 1912, grew up in Auburn, graduated from Garfield High School in Seattle and the University of Washington Program in Architecture (1929 - 1934). Later in the 30’s he went to New York University for a masters degree and had an amazing career until he passed in 1986.
Minoru Yamasaki was the chief architect for the World Trade Center in New York, amongst other notable creations. His style was simple, incorporated arches that tipped a hat towards the gothic, and he loved light but often used narrow vertical windows because he was afraid of heights.
I especially enjoy the IBM Building. It sets an inviting tone along 5th Avenue with those graceful arches at street level that seem inclusive of all buildings around it and I like the open space plaza that adjoins it on the north, home of the Benihana restaurant for many years.
And of course, there is always the delight of many interesting pedestrians, both locals and visitors. In my best Northwest parlance I'd call that, uptown.