Safeco Plaza
Safeco Plaza viewed from the sundeck of Washington Mutual Tower in 2008; Columbia Center is directly behind it
Safeco Plaza is located in Seattle WA Downtown
Safeco Plaza
Location within downtown Seattle
Alternative names1001 Fourth Avenue Plaza
Seafirst Building
Seattle First National Bank Building
Record height
Tallest in Seattle and Washington state from 1969 to 1985[I]
Preceded bySpace Needle
Surpassed byColumbia Center
General information
TypeCommercial offices
Location1001 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Coordinates47°36′22″N 122°20′03″W / 47.6061°N 122.3341°W / 47.6061; -122.3341
Construction started1966
Cost$32 million
OwnerBoston Properties
Roof630 ft (192 m)
Technical details
Floor count50
Floor area70,089 m2 (754,430 sq ft)
Design and construction
Architect(s)Naramore, Bain, Bray, and Johanson
Structural engineerSkilling Helle Christiansen and Robertson
Main contractorHoward S. Wright Construction Company

Safeco Plaza (formerly known as 1001 Fourth Avenue Plaza, the Seafirst Building, and the Seattle-First National Bank Building) is a 50-story skyscraper in Downtown Seattle, Washington, United States. Designed by the Naramore, Bain, Brady, and Johanson (NBBJ) firm, it was completed in 1969 by the Howard S. Wright Construction Company for Seattle First National Bank (later known as Seafirst Bank), which relocated from its previous headquarters at the nearby Dexter Horton Building.[5]

Standing at a height of 630 feet (192 m), Safeco Plaza was, upon completion, the tallest building (and structure) in Seattle, and the second-tallest building west of Mississippi River, behind 555 California Street in San Francisco.[6] It dwarfed Smith Tower, which had been the tallest building since 1914, and edged out the Space Needle, the tallest structure since 1962, by 25 ft (7.6 m);[7] the latter led locals to refer to the building as "The Box the Space Needle Came In".[8][9] The building was surpassed by the Columbia Center in 1984;[10] as of 2022, it is the seventh-tallest building in Seattle.

The building served as the headquarters of Seafirst until the bank moved into the Columbia Center upon its opening in 1985;[11] in 2006, it became the headquarters of Safeco Insurance, which relocated from its previous headquarters in the University District.

Design and amenities

The bronze-colored aluminum and glass structure was the first modern class-A office building in Seattle[12] and is the first skyscraper in the world to feature a Vierendeel space frame.[2] The structure includes a two-story lobby as well as a five-story subterranean garage. Other amenities include 15,000 square feet (1,400 m2) of ground-floor retail featuring a fitness center, a bank, some restaurants, a medical center, and a post office.[12] The building also has a rooftop helipad, one of twelve in the city.[13]

Prominent among its restaurants was the Mirabeau, which was situated on the 46th floor.[14] The landmark restaurant closed in 1991 following a business downturn.[15]

The eastern plaza in front of the building is home to Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae, an abstract bronze sculpture by Henry Moore that was part of a three-piece series. It was installed by previous tenant Seafirst Bank in 1971 and was planned to be removed after being sold in 1986, but was saved with a donation by the Bank of America (Seafirst's successor) to the Seattle Art Museum following public outcry.[16]


The "Seattle First National Bank Building" in 1969.[17]

Originally the headquarters of Seafirst Bank, it was sold fourteen years later to JMB Realty in 1983 for $123 million, a record for a Seattle building.[8][18] The building was purchased by Seafo Inc., a company affiliated with the New York State Common Retirement Fund, in 1993.[19] Hines and the CalPERS retirement system purchased 1001 Fourth Avenue Plaza in May 2005 for $162 million, with plans for $30 million in renovations to attract a new major client.[20][21]

Safeco Insurance Company of America leased 284,000 square feet (26,400 m2) of the building on May 23, 2006, to be its headquarters after moving from its former building in the University District and consolidating its Redmond office. The company subsequently renamed it to Safeco Plaza.[22][23][24] In 2015, Safeco announced that it would consolidate more offices into the tower, increasing its lease from 17 to 26 floors.[25]

In July 2016, German firm GLL Real Estate Partners GmbH and South Korean firm Vestas Investment Management bought Safeco Plaza for $387 million.[26] The firms sold the building in 2021 to Boston Properties for $465 million.[27][28] A major renovation of the tower's lobby and amenity spaces was announced in July 2023 and is scheduled to be completed by 2024. A longue, fitness center, and conference rooms are set to be added as part of the project; a bicycle hub on 3rd Avenue will replace a retail space occupied by Mel's Market until 2020.[29][30]

Major tenants

See also


  1. ^ "Safeco Plaza". CTBUH Skyscraper Center.
  2. ^ a b "Emporis building ID 119473". Emporis. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016.
  3. ^ "Safeco Plaza". SkyscraperPage.
  4. ^ Safeco Plaza at Structurae
  5. ^ Lane, Polly (January 19, 1969). "Tall One to Relate to Seattle-to-Be". The Seattle Times. p. 4C. Retrieved February 11, 2022 – via NewsBank.
  6. ^ "World's tallest buildings in 1970" (PDF). Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-26.
  7. ^ Dorpat, Paul (February 3, 2006). "Boxed In". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  8. ^ a b "Seafirst sells its skyscraper". Spokane Chronicle. Associated Press. September 30, 1983. p. 18.
  9. ^ Stein, Alan J. (May 31, 1999). "Seattle First National Bank building is dedicated on March 28, 1969". HistoryLink. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  10. ^ Mahoney, Sally Gene (July 1, 1984). "Caught his eye". The Seattle Times. p. D8. Retrieved February 11, 2022 – via NewsBank.
  11. ^ Lane, Polly (March 31, 1985). "Seafirst Building will get a wind-resistant plaza". The Seattle Times. p. E4. Retrieved February 11, 2022 – via NewsBank.
  12. ^ a b "Safeco Plaza". Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  13. ^ Porter, Essex (March 19, 2014). "Helipad review ordered by Seattle mayor". KIRO News. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  14. ^ Jones, Nard (1972). Seattle. Doubleday. p. 8. ISBN 978-0385018753.
  15. ^ Healy, Tim (January 4, 1991). "Two Landmark Restaurants Fail". The Seattle Times.
  16. ^ Hackett, Regina (October 22, 1996). "Bronze and blue all over; Henry Moore sculpture is looking bruised". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. p. C1.
  17. ^ "Seattle Municipal Archives Photograph Collection". Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  18. ^ Healy, Tim (January 25, 1988). "JMB Realty: Company is quiet, but not dormant, in Downtown Seattle". The Seattle Times. p. D2.
  19. ^ "Sources: Lender takes title to former Seafirst HQ". The Seattle Times. November 6, 1993. p. D1.
  20. ^ Boyer, Tom (May 3, 2005). "Former Seafirst Bank tower purchased for $162 million". The Seattle Times. p. E3. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  21. ^ "Hines, CalPers buy 1001 Fourth Plaza". Puget Sound Business Journal. May 3, 2005. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  22. ^ Allison, Melissa (May 25, 2006). "Safeco says headquarters to be in downtown tower". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  23. ^ "Safeco Corporation Form 8-K". United States Securities and Exchange Commission. May 23, 2006. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  24. ^ "Safeco Announces New Headquarters and Regional Office in Downtown Seattle" (Press release). Safeco Corporation. May 24, 2006. Retrieved July 6, 2016 – via PR Newswire.
  25. ^ Stiles, Marc (November 3, 2015). "Exclusive: In huge blow to Seattle office developers, Safeco will consolidate in current HQ". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  26. ^ Stiles, Marc (July 6, 2016). "Real estate deal of the year: 50-story Seattle tower sells for $387M". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  27. ^ Groover, Heidi (July 27, 2021). "Safeco Plaza in downtown Seattle to sell for $465 million". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  28. ^ "Boston Properties Officially Closes on Seattle's Safeco Plaza for $465MM". The Registry. September 1, 2021. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  29. ^ Minnick, Benjamin (July 10, 2023). "Boston Properties is sprucing up Safeco Plaza, focusing on tenants". Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. Retrieved October 27, 2023.
  30. ^ Stiles, Marc (July 10, 2023). "Safeco Plaza owner shows off new look coming to office tower". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved October 27, 2023.
  31. ^ Stiles, Marc (May 3, 2023). "The incredible shrinking office through the eyes of one Seattle law firm". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved October 27, 2023.