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Columbia Center (Seattle) photograph.
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz
This image is available as a print or poster.

Columbia Center (Seattle) photograph.
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz
This image is available as a print or poster.

Columbia Center (Seattle) photograph.
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz
This image is available as a print or poster.

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The Columbia Center

Also known as: BoAT
Formerly: Bank of America Tower
Formerly: Columbia Seafirst Center
Formerly: Columbia Center
Built: 1982-1985
Cost: $200,000,000
Designed by: Chester Lindsey Architects
Type: Skyscraper
Stories: 76
Maximum Height: 997 feet / 304 meters
Location: 701 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, United States
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Building Rating
80% of readers like the Columbia Center (Seattle).
What do you think?
T hough skyscraper fans frequently note this building as Seattle's most famous, to the general public it is somewhat less significant. Certainly the Smith Tower and Pike Place Market are more historically and culturally visible through postcards and tourist materials sent around the world. Still, the Columbia Center is worthy of a significant amount of praise.

It is based on the simple black glass block so popular in the 1970's and 1980's. But in this case, the simple form was made graceful -- elegant through the use of three sweeping arcs of multiple elevations. The Columbia Center manages to break out of the monotony and stand out among the world's great towers. This would have been possible even if it had adhered to conventional design forms. Clocking in at a massive 997 feet, this is a building that demands attention.

Still, its position in the skyline is unfortunate. In picture post cards it is frequently the tall kid in the back of the class on the right who doesn't get noticed as much as the one in the center with the shiny teeth and good posture (Washington Mutual Tower).

It was the Federal Aviation Administration that first took the building down a notch, reducing its design height from 1,005 feet. Whether the eight foot reduction really makes a difference to pilots coming into SeaTac airport is a matter for speculation. But the developers weren't going to lose any money on the deal by reducing the number of floors available for rent. Instead, they simply reduced the ceiling height on each floor by six inches. Perhaps not the most elegant solution, but at least the most practical.

  • March 2, 1985 - Building opens to the public.
  • 1998 - Sold for US$404,000,000.00.
  • July, 2007 - The building's name changes from Bank of America Tower back to Columbia Center

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Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 @ 2:41pm
Rating: Five stars.
Beautiful building. A little different, just like it's city, Seattle. I love the graceful curves and that it is actually three towers in one. The dark building stands out in this rainy/misty climate. They say on postcards it is the lost tall kid in the back of the room, I couldn't disagree more. It may be at the back but it is obvious that it is an impressive structure not matter which direction of downtown Seattle you see it from. It is a compliment to Seattle's skyline and is a collection of great skyscrapers along with the Space Needle that make the skyline of Seattle one of the most impressive in the world. Seattle is a city that should be building up not out, since we live in such a beautiful area of the world we can build high rise buildings instead of spread out campuses to save our outdoor green spaces to enjoy. I don't think Columbia Center will be one of the last great Seattle skyscrapers and predict one day soon it may be Seattle's second or third tallest building and still impressive as it is today.

Joe Schmoe
Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 @ 4:45pm
Rating: Five stars.
I used to work as a security guard in that building.Almost got blown off the roof once, escorting a communications technician.Took my niece up on the very top one Sunday when she was about 9 years old. Put her on my shoulders and told her she was "the tallest person in the world". She tells me she still remembers that one.

Thursday, January 10th, 2008 @ 6:15am
Rating: Three stars.
The view is great, and it does add to the skyline without dominating or detracting (always a plus). But the interesting geometry I think lost on the casual observer. It just looks a big black obelisk at a glance from the sidewalk like so many others. I wonder if some day they may not spice up the exterior somehow. Or maybe just mirror the north-westward curve...

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007 @ 9:15pm
Rating: Four stars.
Great post. I think the height is great and fits well with the Seattle skyline. I bet it has great views. Anyone know if it has sustainability features?

David Collins
Sunday, May 14th, 2006 @ 9:03am
Rating: Five stars.
The finest view I have ever observed from a building.Wonderful.

Sunday, February 12th, 2006 @ 7:25pm
Rating: Five stars.
We live here in Seattle. When we first moved here we went in to the Tower to see if they had a viewdeck...and they did, a splendid one with about a 280 degree (Give ot take a few degrees) view. The admission price is much more reasonable than at the Space Needle, and the view much better. We still make an annual trip there just to enjoy the view. The Tower itself is an impressive presence on a very aesthetically pleasing skyline

Friday, November 25th, 2005 @ 2:10pm
Rating: Five stars.
This building has such an amazing view i think it was better than even the world trade center in new york, because you are looking at more than one type of landscape not just solid city but wall mountains and beautiful waterways, as well as city when i went there i spent about an hour and a half because it is that cool

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005 @ 1:05pm
Rating: Five stars.
The view is to die for. One of the greatest structures in the region.

Lorna & Katrina Bolton
Tuesday, June 21st, 2005 @ 10:13am
Rating: Four stars.
I took my daughter up on 6/20/05 for her 11th Birthday, it was FABULOUS to look DOWN on the Space Needle. She was very impressed too! Nice they have the observation deck!

Friday, May 20th, 2005 @ 11:30am
Rating: Five stars.
My son just went up it in a fieldtrip in 9th grade and was totally awestruck!!!

Monday, April 18th, 2005 @ 11:40pm
Rating: Three stars.
It is a very beautiful building, i cannot disagree with that, but perhaps a little too tall for a city so small compared to others, and if the tallest building in the world title did return to the U.S. the building would be somewhere mor widely known like New York or New orleans, perhaps los angeles or chicago

A.J. O'Connell
Thursday, January 13th, 2005 @ 12:54am
Rating: Five stars.
Go to the observation deck on the 72nd Floor. It is the best view in the Pacific Northwest.

Mike Burke
Tuesday, May 25th, 2004 @ 5:29pm
Rating: Four stars.
I rated it a 4 because I think that they should think about making it taller. It would be cool if Seattle had the tallest building in the world. Some day I hope to design the tallest building in the world and if I could choose the city to put it in I would choose Seattle. For some reason I have always been facinated with skysrapers and I really badly want to go to the top floor of one and look straight down. The tallest structure that I have been on is the Space Needle and I really want to go at least 1000ft in the air if not higher. If I had the money I would make a skysraper 2000ft high and make it so people can go to the top floor and look straight down to the ground. That is my ultimate goal.

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