Making a Case for Designating the Washington Coliseum (aka Key Arena) as a Seattle Landmark

Washington Coliseum / Key Arena (Photo: Eugenia Woo)

Washington Coliseum / KeyArena (Photo: Eugenia Woo)

A recent Crosscut guest opinion piece by Michael Herschensohn makes the case for designating KeyArena as a Seattle Landmark. 

Built in 1962 for the Seattle World’s Fair, the structure was originally called the Washington State Coliseum—it housed the Century 21 Expo’s theme exhibit, the World of Tomorrow among other exhibits. The Coliseum was designed by prominent Seattle architect Paul Thiry who was the master planner and architect for the fairgrounds. The Space Needle, US Science Pavilion (now Pacific Science Center) and Coliseum were the three key anchors at the Fair and remain so today. The Coliseum’s scale and size dominates the western portion of Seattle Center. Its form, design and structural engineering make it a unique structure in the city.

The Coliseum remains the last obvious potential landmark at Seattle Center that has not been nominated/designated. There are other resources at Seattle Center that are landmarked—the Armory; Kobe Bell; Monorail; and Horiuchi Mural. The Space Needle and Pacific Science Center are landmarks but are not owned by the City.

Seattle Center has recently selected a cultural resources consultant team to conduct a historic resources survey and inventory of eleven structures on the campus. KeyArena is included on the list. Landmark nominations may also be prepared as part of this process. We hope to see positive nominations for the Coliseum/KeyArena and other worthy structures as a result of this process. We anticipate the survey and inventory to be completed by February 2013 and nominations to be prepared by Spring/Summer 2013. As MAin2 finds out more about this project we’ll share the news with you.

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1 Response to “Making a Case for Designating the Washington Coliseum (aka Key Arena) as a Seattle Landmark”


  1. 1 Herb Curl December 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    A contrarian opinion: What if the land bought for a new basketball venue in SODO were traded for the site of Key Arena and the new arena was built there. Parking structures are already there and could be expanded. It would bring new life to Seattle Center an avoid all the conflicts with the other stadia, transportation and the port. Key Arena is not unique, having been rebuilt and expanded (but apparently not enough.) Just a thought.


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The writers who post entries on MAin2 represent various views and opinions. The blog posts do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Historic Seattle.

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