Seattle City Hall

Seattle, Washington

1 / 15 – Photo credit: Nic Lehoux
“The Seattle City Hall is that special building, that unique architectural moment that engages the common person in the pragmatic and poetic possibility of sensual beauty in the man-made environment.”
Will Bruder, "A Civic Lesson...," Nature of Circumstance



The building’s glass and steel structure intersects the steeply sloping site between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, contrasting with terraced stone landforms that comprise its base. Water and sky slice through the block in a series of pools, cascades and skylights forming links to the other Civic Center buildings and to views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

The seven story executive office block exhibits a dynamic display of curtain wall and sun-shades, with each elevation responding to its solar orientation and surroundings. Its curving south face opens to views of the city and Mount Rainier, echoing the titanium forms of the council chamber. The chamber and offices are linked by a blue glass bridge designed by James Carpenter.

Daylighting control and an under-floor air distribution system reduce energy and enhance the interior work environment. A planted roof reduces runoff by soaking up Seattle’s abundant rainwater and letting it evaporate gradually, while excess water is harvested by an underground cistern for use in landscape irrigation and toilets. For these and other sustainable elements, City Hall has received a Gold LEED rating by the U.S. Green Building Council.

City Hall was designed to reveal the transparency of the city’s government while creating a welcome place for its citizens. The openness of the lobby, the continuation of exterior materials and details on the inside, and the clear articulation of the council chamber reinforce this.

Project Data

Seattle, Washington
1999 – 2005
City of Seattle, Washington
200,000 sf


Tucker Award for Design
Merit Award, IDEAS Awards Program
Honor Award for Design
Award of Commendation for Design
Award of Excellence for Electrical Design