Second Life
on Third Avenue

After a contemporary redesign of its lobby and public spaces, 1201 Third Avenue, the second-tallest tower in Seattle, has been repositioned as a premier address for a new era.

Built in 1988, 1201 Third Avenue has long been attractive to the finance, insurance, real estate and law tenants who traditionally formed the commercial real estate market. However, as existing leases expired, and as Seattle has become renowned as a tech hotspot, the owners felt the building’s public areas needed updating to remain competitive.

Acknowledging the quality of the rich, historical finishes, NBBJ designed a phased series of “light touch” interventions that can be rolled back in the future, as design tastes inevitably change.

Starting with the main entry on Third Avenue, the dark stone entryways are lightened by the addition of glowing portals — made from thin, backlit marble slabs — and double-height transparent glazing. These features highlight the entrance and make it more welcoming, with integrated signage to update the brand identity.

Subsequent phases refreshed the lobby interior with new, reversible finishes and fixtures: aluminum flooring laid over a rubber mat and the existing stone floor; a stainless steel mesh (on which video will be projected) suspended in front of the existing wood-paneled walls; acoustic paneling; brighter, more energy-efficient lighting; and new reception and security desks, reoriented for better traffic flow.

Since the project began, occupancy rates have risen more than 10%, a testament to the renewed value of this legacy property.

Awards and Publications


Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), Illumination Award of Merit


Contract, “1201 Third Avenue,” February 19, 2016