Seattle Landmarks: Columbia Center

Seattle Landmarks: Columbia Center

Without a doubt, the best-known building in the Seattle skyline is the Space Needle at Seattle Center, but it's far from the tallest or most interesting structure in the city. The Emerald City's tallest building is the black tower at its core, Columbia Center. More than just a skyscraper, Columbia Center is a symbol of Seattle's primacy in the economy of the Pacific Northwest and the growth of the city since key industries such as computers and e-commerce began to rise in the 80's and 90's. Located between 4th and 5th Avenue at the intersections of Columbia and Cherry Streets, Columbia Center is the beating heart of Seattle's financial district.

Construction on the Columbia Center tower began in 1982 with financial backing from Martin Selig, a man whose real estate firm is responsible for a significant portion of the buildings found in downtown Seattle. The design is care of renowned architect Chester Lindsey, who passed in 2003, with structural engineering work by Magnusson Klemencic Associates. Completed after three years of construction, the tower opened its 76 floors to businesses and the public in 1985 as Columbia Center, undergoing several name changes to reflect the presence of Seafirst Bank and then Bank of America as its primary tenant. Since 2005, the tower has once again reverted to its original name.

The majority of the space in Columbia Center is dedicated to premiere office space, housing some of the most prestigious companies in the nation. It also connects to two other major office centers via an underground concourse. The concourse connects to the Seattle Municipal Tower, which houses a number of government offices and public utility administration spaces, and the Bank of America Fifth Avenue Plaza, one of Seattle's oldest and busiest business centers.

For those who don't work at Columbia Center and aren't in the market for new office space, the main attraction is the view. Though technically the highest Starbucks Coffee location in the world is in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, it's hard to compete with the 40th floor Starbucks at Columbia Center when it comes to height off the ground. With interiors that are more elegant than the average cafe and a stunning view of downtown Seattle, the 40th floor location is a heck of a place for a coffee break. For a more comprehensive view, you'll have to travel up 33 more floors to get to the Columbia Center observation deck. It's quite literally the best view in town. After all, its only neighbors in the city are clouds.

Also at the top of the building is the Columbia Tower Club, a private business club that hosts meetings and leisure amenities for card-holding members. It features state-of-the-art conference facilities, a beautiful restaurant and even a quiet library. It's the perfect crown for the king business locale in Seattle.