Rainier Tower, or The Beaver Building

Jan 4, 2016 2 comments

The North American beaver is the lumberjack of the rodent world. With nothing but its four front teeth, the beaver can cut down a small tree in a matter of minutes. Using its sharp incisors, the beaver will slice through the wood, stripping away the bark first and they gnawing at the softer inside. It works its way around the tree trunk winding it down until the tree is ready to fall.

The Rainier Tower in the Metropolitan Tract of Seattle, Washington, at 1301 Fifth Avenue, could have been designed by the North American beaver. The 31-story skyscraper is raised up on a 11-story concrete pedestal that tapers towards ground level, as if a beaver had chewed it at its base. The locals love to call it the “beaver building”.


The Rainer Tower (left) looks like it has been chewed at its base by a beaver (right).

The Rainier Tower was designed not by a beaver but by Japanese-American Minoru Yamasaki, who is famous for designing the now destroyed World Trade Center in New York City as well as the IBM Building.

Rainier Tower's narrow profile at ground level makes room for Rainier Square, an underground shopping mall connecting with One Union Square, and includes stores and landscaped areas. The unique design makes it possible to cram more than half a million square feet of office space, while taking up only a quarter of the block. Before construction started, engineers tested the design for strength and stability to make sure it would stay standing through earthquakes and high winds. The odd design also eases the "canyon effect" that funnels and accelerates wind along streets bordered by tall buildings.

Construction of the Rainier Tower completed in 1977. The building and the plaza are named after Rainier Bank, its original tenant. Rainier Bank later merged into Security Pacific in the 1980s, and eventually into BankAmerica. In 1989, the name of the tower was changed after Security Pacific until UW chose to rename it back to the more familiar "Rainier Tower" in 1995.

For a brief period in 2007-2008, Rainier Tower’s owner launched a campaign called “Movies on the Pedestal” where the building's pedestal was used as a 50-feet projection screen. Flicks such as Casino Royale, Batman Begins, The Bourne Ultimatum and Almost Famous were screened.


Photo credit: SounderBruce/Flickr


Photo credit: Lawrence/Flickr


Photo credit: Ronald Woan/Flickr


Photo credit: Penn State University/Flickr


Photo credit: Decaseconds/Flickr

Rainier Tower

Photo credit: Ronald Woan/Flickr


Photo credit: thefunambulist.net


"Casino Royale" is projected onto the base of the Rainier Tower for Movies on the Pestestal night. Photo credit: Grant M. Haller/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Sources: Wikipedia / whatsthatinwa.blogspot.in / Unico Prop

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