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PNW Explained

Why Your Favorite Seattle Landmark Isn’t Safe From the Bulldozer

A look at how Seattle decides to save or destroy a landmark.

September 11, 2018

Seattle has more than 400 officially designated landmarks, including buildings, boats and even a few historic clocks. Landmark designation is a public process involving the property owner, the city and members of the community. The process often requires negotiation. What portions of the site should be preserved? What elements can be altered or changed? And with whose permission?

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Board also weighs the structure’s age, its architectural integrity or significance, and its cultural or political heritage before making a recommendation for official designation. In rare cases, a landmark may still end up being demolished. Jeffrey Ochsner, a professor of architecture at the University of Washington, dives into some of the gray areas of landmark preservation in Seattle.  


Eric Keto

From the Oregon Coast to the North Slope of Alaska, Eric enjoys telling stories from the western edge of the country. His nonfiction video work has been featured on The Atlantic, PBS NewsHour and Alaska Public Media.

More stories by Eric Keto

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