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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

February 22, 2013 at 10:18 PM

The beacon that graduated Amazon

Sketched Feb. 12, 2013



It sits atop Beacon Hill like, well, a beacon: the striking orange brick
 building that no one seems to call by the same name.


Built in 1933 as the U.S. Marine Hospital, it was later known as the 
Pacific Medical Center and still houses the medical provider in the
 ground and basement floors. Then, after Amazon leased most of the space 
in 1999, people just referred to it as the Amazon building.


Now, “We call it the Pacific Tower,” said Michael Finch, the commercial 
real-estate agent tasked with finding new tenants for the historic
 landmark where Amazon grew to be the world’s largest online retailer.

Employees who walked through this art-deco lobby will still remember the 
espresso bar and hair salon down the hall, the full-service cafeteria on 
the second floor and the expansive views from the auditorium on the 
eighth floor.


As I walked by empty work spaces, I could only imagine the vibe inside these walls. With so many young workers cramming 13 floors — even Jeff
 Bezos had a tiny office — it must have felt like a college dorm.

Beautiful art-deco patterns and limestone walls transport you back to the 1930s when you enter the former hospital.

A napkin holder is still laying on the counter of the espresso bar on the first floor. Michael Finch said a similar booth across the hall was used as a hair salon.

Picture Amazon employees waiting to the check-out at the cafeteria. The Smith Tower and other downtown landmarks are visible through the windows.

Michael Finch showed me around the executive quarters on the 6th floor. The office used by Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos has direct access to the fire exit but little views. I’m guessing he probably didn’t want to be distracted by the great views he could have enjoyed from other parts of the building.

The conference room on the 8th floor gives you an idea of those views.

The 13th floor was originally used as storage, but at some point Amazon also renovated it for office space.

What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.

Comments | More in Buildings, History | Topics: Beacon Hill


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