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Federal Reserve Bank Building (Seattle)

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Federal Reserve Bank Building
Seattle - 1015 2nd Avenue 01.jpg
Looking northwest from Madison Street, 2009
Alternative names Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Seattle Branch
General information
Status Complete
Type Bank branch
Architectural style Modernist
Address 1015 2nd Avenue
Seattle, Washington
Groundbreaking April 20, 1950 (1950-04-20)
Completed 1950
Opened January 2, 1951 (1951-01-02)
Closed February 20, 2008 (2008-02-20)
Client Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Owner Martin Selig Real Estate
Technical details
Structural system Steel
Material Reinforced concrete
Floor count 6
Floor area 119,452 sq ft (11,097.5 m2)[1]
Grounds 25,920 sq ft (2,408 m2)[1]
Design and construction
Architect William J. Bain
Architecture firm NBBJ
Main contractor Kuney Johnson Company
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Seattle Branch
Federal Reserve Bank Building (Seattle) is located in Seattle WA Downtown
Federal Reserve Bank Building (Seattle)
Location Seattle, Washington
Coordinates 47°36′19.37″N 122°20′8.86″W / 47.6053806°N 122.3357944°W / 47.6053806; -122.3357944Coordinates: 47°36′19.37″N 122°20′8.86″W / 47.6053806°N 122.3357944°W / 47.6053806; -122.3357944
Built 1950
Architect Naramore, Bain, Brady & Johanson
Architectural style Modernist
NRHP reference # 11000985[2]
Added to NRHP February 4, 2013

The Federal Reserve Bank Building, also known as the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Seattle Branch, served as the offices of the Seattle branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco for over 50 years, from 1951 to 2008.

The building site has been the subject of several recent redevelopment proposals, including a 2008 plan to demolish the building that was halted after a U.S. District Court ruling. After ownership of the Federal Reserve Bank Building was transferred to the General Services Administration in 2013, it was auctioned to Martin Selig Real Estate in 2015 for $16 million; the firm later announced plans to build a 48-story mixed-use skyscraper atop the existing building, but scaled back the project to only seven floors.

The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2013.

Architecture and design[edit]

The Federal Reserve Bank Building is located on a half-block on the west side of 2nd Avenue between Madison Street and Spring Street, the Modernist building consists of six stories, four above street level and two below, and is composed of structural steel and reinforced concrete. The main facade, facing 2nd Avenue, is clad partially in light gray Indiana limestone; the basement's exterior walls are clad in reddish-brown granite. A small plaza on 2nd Avenue in front of the building's main entrance, setback from the street by 18 feet (5.5 m), features terraced planters finished with polished granite and serve as a plinth.[1][3][4]

The two basement floors of the building, located below street level, housed a vault measuring 56 by 56 feet (17 m × 17 m), behind 30-inch-thick (76 cm) reinforced concrete walls and stainless steel doors in the southeast corner; the 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) vault used 335 tonnes (330 long tons; 369 short tons) of material during its construction and once included a circular staircase that was removed in 2005. The basement floors also contained a small parking garage and secure truck lobby accessible via an alleyway, workspaces, and a shooting range for use by security personnel. The first floor features the only public spaces in the building, mainly the lobby and former teller stands, as well as the main entrance to 2nd Avenue; a small rentable space on the first floor was formerly occupied by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the 1950s and has remained unoccupied since 1990. The upper floors of the building contained open offices and check processing areas, along with employee amenities such as a cafeteria and lounges.[1][3][4]

The Federal Reserve Bank Building is one of the earliest surviving works of Seattle-based architecture firm NBBJ, founded in 1943; the lead architect of the project was William J. Bain, one of the firm's founding partners.[4][5] The building was built to withstand the impact of an atomic bomb and was later retrofitted to be resistant to strong earthquakes.[1][6][7] Designed in the Modernist style by Bain, the building recalls the pre-war Moderne style with its solid features and simple facade, the Federal Reserve Bank Building shares some features with the William Kenzo Nakamura United States Courthouse, another federal building in Seattle that was built a decade earlier. The bank building's design has been described as one of "permanence and security", with its "austerity and visual weight [standing out] among the many Modern skyscrapers in the surrounding financial district."[8][9]

History[edit]

The Baillargeon Building at 2nd and Spring, the former Federal Reserve Bank branch
The Rialto Building at 2nd and Madison, demolished for the construction of the new bank building in 1949

The Seattle branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco was opened in 1917 and spent its first three decades in leased space at the Baillargeon Building in downtown Seattle.[8][10] Plans for a permanent building for the Federal Reserve were drawn up in 1948 and approved for construction by the San Francisco board on February 28, 1949,[10][11] the site at 2nd and Madison was chosen because of its proximity to the city's financial district and would replace the bank-owned Rialto Building,[12] built in 1894 and formerly home to the Seattle Public Library as well one of the first Frederick and Nelson department stores.[8][13][14] Designed by local architecture firm NBBJ in the post-war Modernist style, the six-story, steel-frame building would cost $2.5 million (equivalent to $24.89 million in 2016)[15] to construct.[16]

The cornerstone of the building was laid on April 20, 1950,[17] marking the beginning of nine months of construction by the Kuney Johnson Company, the Federal Reserve Bank Building opened on January 2, 1951, with the Federal Reserve sharing the new building with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.[8][16]

The building underwent some minor alterations during its 50 years of use by the Federal Reserve, consisting mostly of routine maintenance and upgrades;[1] in 1958, the exterior was cleaned and waterproofed at the recommendation of architect William J. Bain, resulting in the discoloring of the limestone cladding. In the 1980s, the building's roof and windows were replaced under the direction of HNTB. Portions of the building were renovated in the 1990s to add new employee amenities, including a cafeteria and conference room.[1]

The 2001 Nisqually earthquake on February 28, 2001, caused minor damage to the structure that was lessened by a seismic retrofit completed in 1996,[1] after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the building was closed to public access and several security features were added to the surrounding perimeter.[1]

The Federal Reserve announced plans in 2004 to move its Seattle branch offices to the Longacres area of Renton on 11 acres (4.5 ha) formerly owned by Boeing.[18] The Seattle building was closed on February 20, 2008, with Federal Reserve vice chairman Donald Kohn noting at the Renton facility's dedication that the old building was "no longer adequate for efficient operations" and did not meet post-2001 security standards.[19][20] Ownership of the building was transferred to the General Services Administration in April 2012 to prepare for a possible sale.[21][22][23]

Proposed redevelopment[edit]

During development of the Seattle Monorail Project in the early 2000s, an elevated monorail station at Madison Street on 2nd Avenue was proposed in the plaza of the Federal Reserve Bank Building but was ultimately not built.[24][25]

Initial plan and lawsuit over preservation[edit]

After the building was vacated in 2008, the Tukwila-based developer Sabey Corporation negotiated a deal with the Federal Reserve Bank to purchase the property for $19.75 million.[26] The sale was opposed by local preservationists, who formed the "Committee for the Preservation of the Seattle Federal Reserve Bank Building" and filed a suit against the Federal Reserve Bank in U.S. District Court on November 21, 2008 to halt the proposed sale.[27] Federal judge Robert S. Lasnik ruled in favor of the preservationists group on March 19, 2010, finding that the Federal Reserve Bank had not followed proper federal disposal procedures for surplus property.[7][28][29]

On February 4, 2013, the Federal Reserve Bank Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.[30] In 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank sought to designate the building as a Seattle city landmark, but were unable to gain approval from the City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board.[31] A second attempt at the city landmark nomination, led by Martin Selig Real Estate, began in 2016.[1][32][33]

Auction and skyscraper proposal[edit]

A rendering of Selig's original proposal for a 48-story skyscraper atop the existing Federal Reserve Bank Building, since scaled back.

The General Services Administration (GSA) attempted to dispose of the Federal Reserve Bank Building through its surplus federal property procedures, but by November 2014 received no compelling applications from government agencies and organizations with a public function.[34] A public auction began on December 5, 2014, with a starting bid set at $5 million,[35] and was initially set to end on January 28, 2015; in late January, bids rose to near $10 million between the eight bidders and forced the auction's deadline to be extended into the following month.[36][37] Bidding closed on February 7, 2015, with a high bid of $16 million submitted by an undisclosed bidder.[38][39]

In April 2015, it was announced that the winning bidder of the auction was Martin Selig Real Estate,[40] the firm announced plans to build a 31-story office tower, designed by Perkins and Will, and incorporating the existing building as the skyscraper's podium with a 3-story winter garden separating the historic building from the addition.[41]

One of the unsuccessful bids came from Seattle Public Schools, who had proposed renovating the building into an elementary school in 2014, the first downtown school in 65 years. Initially, the district applied to the GSA in July 2014 through the United States Department of Education to acquire the property, but were rejected by the latter over the tentative nature of the application;[42] the school board later voted in November 2014 against submitting a second application over the $50 million cost and 3-year deadline for renovations.[43] The district was, however, allowed to participate in the January 2015 auction and submitted an opening bid of $1 million;[44] Seattle Public Schools was the first bidder to drop out of the auction when the price passed the district's final bid of $5.8 million.[45]

The Compass Housing Authority, a homeless advocacy group, also proposed renovating the building into a downtown homeless shelter and services center in 2014, but were rejected by the United States Department of Health and Human Services over a lack of funding.[5][46][47]

In December 2015, Selig announced updated plans to include 12 additional stories of housing, bringing the total height of the skyscraper to 664 feet (202 m) and 48 stories, which would make it the fifth-tallest building in the city.[48] The skyscraper is scheduled to begin construction in 2018 and open in 2020,[49] after the April 2015 purchase, Selig paid for the cleaning of the building's exterior and plaza and some interior demolition of the first and fourth floors.[1]

After the acquisition of Fernando Botero's "Adam and Eve", a pair of Rubenesque statues, by Martin Selig in early 2016, it was announced that the 12.5-foot-tall (3.8 m) "Adam" would be displayed on a pedestal in front of the Federal Reserve Bank Building.[50]

In June 2016, Selig announced that he would scale back plans after facing opposition from historic preservation groups over the alterations to the historic structure, the new proposed eight-story addition would have 125,000 square feet (11,600 m2) of office space and include a two-story penthouse; parts of the new structure would be illuminated at night. The addition is being designed by a team with William Bain Jr. and John Bain, the son and grandson, respectively, of original architect William Bain.[51] A third design released in late November lowered the height to seven stories and add an opaque west facade after complaints from a neighboring condominium tower.[52][53]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k The Johnson Partnership (October 2015). "Landmark Nomination Report: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Seattle Branch (1015 Second Avenue, Seattle)" (PDF). City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  2. ^ National Park Service (July 9, 2010). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Federal Reserve Bank of SF, SEATTLE, WA". General Services Administration. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c Artifacts Consulting, Inc. (June 2011). National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Seattle Branch Building (PDF) (Report). National Park Service. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 5, 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2016 – via Washington Information System for Architectural and Archaeological Records Data. 
  5. ^ a b Bhatt, Sanjay (June 25, 2014). "Old Fed branch could go to auction instead of downtown school". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  6. ^ Berger, Knute (March 10, 2010). "The case of the vanishing bank". Crosscut.com. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Stiles, Marc (September 16, 2013). "Fate of former Seattle Federal Reserve building again up in the air". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  8. ^ BOLA Architecture + Planning (April 14, 2008). The Federal Reserve Bank, Seattle: Landmark Nomination (Report). City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board. 
  9. ^ a b Ott, Jennifer (October 10, 2008). "Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Board authorizes construction of a branch bank building in Seattle on February 28, 1949". HistoryLink. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Bank Building Planned". Spokane Daily Chronicle. UPI. September 6, 1948. p. 6. Retrieved January 15, 2016 – via Google News Archive. 
  11. ^ "For Their New Home". The Seattle Times. August 20, 1947. p. 6. 
  12. ^ "Reserve Bank to Have Building". The Seattle Times. September 5, 1948. p. 14. 
  13. ^ "City's Culture Shows Steady, Solid Progress". The Seattle Times. November 11, 1951. p. C35. 
  14. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  15. ^ a b "New Federal Reserve Bank Is Opened". The Seattle Times. January 3, 1951. p. 21. 
  16. ^ "Reserve Bank Officials to Lay Cornerstone". The Seattle Times. April 19, 1950. p. 13. 
  17. ^ McOmber, J. Martin; Lindblom, Mike (November 9, 2004). "Fed to move Seattle branch to Renton, buy Boeing land". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  18. ^ Ott, Jennifer (October 10, 2008). "Seattle branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco closes its downtown location on February 20, 2008". HistoryLink. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  19. ^ Kohn, Donald (April 7, 2008). Dedication remarks (Speech). Dedication of the New Seattle Branch Building of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Renton, Washington. Renton, Washington. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  20. ^ Bhatt, Sanjay (November 8, 2014). "Federal Reserve branch turns into city's ugly duckling". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  21. ^ Pryne, Eric (April 16, 2012). "Federal Reserve ready to dispose of empty downtown building". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  22. ^ "GSA Begins Disposal of Federal Reserve Bank Building to Reduce Federal Footprint" (Press release). General Services Administration. September 19, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Seattle Monorail – Madison Street Station". UrbanAdd. Archived from the original on December 28, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Seattle monorail reaches agreement with contractor". Puget Sound Business Journal. June 3, 2005. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  25. ^ Stiles, Marc (October 14, 2010). "Real Estate Buzz: Sabey wanted Fed building, but not now". Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  26. ^ Shukovsky, Paul (November 24, 2008). "Lawsuit seeks to protect Fed bank building". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  27. ^ Stiles, Marc (January 3, 2011). "5 developers tried to buy Seattle Fed bank building". Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. 
  28. ^ Berger, Knute (March 19, 2010). "Judge cancels sale of historic Seattle bank". Crosscut.com. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  29. ^ Stiles, Marc (February 8, 2013). "Old Seattle Federal Reserve Bank branch placed on National Register". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  30. ^ Berger, Knute (November 28, 2011). "The fight for Seattle's Federal Reserve bank". Crosscut.com. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  31. ^ "Notice of Public Meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Board to consider Landmark Nomination for the Following Property: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Seattle Branch at 1015 Second Avenue" (PDF). City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board. December 2015. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  32. ^ "Board to consider Times, Fed buildings". Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. February 29, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2016. 
  33. ^ "Auction set for Dec. 5 for old Fed building". Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. November 7, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  34. ^ "Bidding opens for former Fed building". Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. December 8, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2016. (Subscription required (help)). 
  35. ^ Stiles, Marc (January 29, 2015). "Bidding war for old Federal Reserve building in Seattle rages on, bids hit $9.6M". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  36. ^ Higgins, John (January 30, 2015). "New bids extend auction for former fed bank downtown". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  37. ^ Stiles, Marc (February 7, 2015). "Old Federal Reserve branch building in Seattle sells for $16 million". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  38. ^ Sullivan, Jennifer; Todd, Leah (February 7, 2015). "Seattle loses bid to put downtown school in federal building". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  39. ^ "Martin Selig buys former Federal Reserve Building". The Seattle Times. April 6, 2015. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  40. ^ Bhatt, Sanjay (August 3, 2015). "High-rise may top historic low-rise Fed building". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  41. ^ Higgins, John (July 2, 2014). "Seattle schools to seek vacant Fed building for possible school". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  42. ^ Todd, Leah (November 6, 2014). "Seattle board rejects acquiring downtown building for school". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  43. ^ Miller, Ben (January 22, 2015). "Seattle School Board not giving up on downtown Federal Reserve building". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  44. ^ Higgins, John; Todd, Leah (February 9, 2015). "Seattle schools not even close in bidding for old Fed building". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  45. ^ Moreno, Joel (July 27, 2014). "Seattle looks toward first downtown school in decades". KOMO 4 News. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  46. ^ Shaw, Linda (March 28, 2014). "Old Federal Reserve building up for grabs downtown". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  47. ^ "Selig wants to add 12 floors of housing to tower above former Fed building". Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. December 9, 2015. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  48. ^ Federal Reserve Site at Emporis
  49. ^ Stiles, Mark (February 22, 2016). "Selig plans to install big, provocative sculpture at site in downtown Seattle". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved February 22, 2016. 
  50. ^ Porter, Lynn (June 13, 2016). "Selig wants to add eight floors to Federal Reserve Building on Second". Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  51. ^ Stiles, Mark (November 29, 2016). "Selig's latest plan for historic building: high-rise to mid-rise". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved December 6, 2016. 
  52. ^ Miller, Brian (December 6, 2016). "Shorter, sleeker design for new space on old Federal Reserve Bank". Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. Retrieved December 6, 2016. 

External links[edit]