Puget Power Building
The four-story Puget Power Building was the tallest building in Bellevue when it was constructed in 1956. Puget Power and Light Company move its headquarters from Seattle to the ever-growing Eastside that year—downtown Bellevue presented an ideal location for the company’s new headquarters. Designed by Harmon, Pray & Detrich, Architects and Engineers, the Puget Power Building was a classic example of International Style commercial architecture with its exterior curtain wall construction and horizontal banding. For fifty years, the building stood as a landmark in the community because it was the best example of the International Style on the Eastside; had seen continuous use as an office building by one of the biggest corporations in the state; and represented the growth and development of downtown Bellevue from a small rural community to a modern city.
Docomomo WEWA nominated the Puget Power Building to the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2005 Most Endangered Properties List because Puget Sound Energy was the in process of selling the property to a Portland development company, which had plans to demolish the Puget Power Building and construct twin high-rise, luxury residential towers on the site.
The Puget Power Building would have been eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places or the Washington Heritage Register in 2006, having reached its fifty-year mark. The City of Bellevue does not have a Historic Preservation Ordinance which would provide protection for historic properties through listing on a local register and through design review. If such an ordinance and register existed, the Puget Power Building would have also been eligible for local listing. Instead of being recognized as symbol of the city, the Puget Power Building was demolished in February 2006.
Although the Puget Power Building was not saved from demolition, Docomomo WEWA increased awareness and appreciation of the building’s significance by bringing attention to its endangered status to the public and to the mainstream preservation community. Listing the building on the Washington Trust’s Most Endangered Properties List garnered interest from the press and KUOW. In part due to our comments and those of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, the State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and concerned Bellevue citizens during the environmental review process, the project developer was required to document the Puget Power Building through professional photographs, drawings, an historic context statement, and an interpretive exhibit to be installed in Puget Sound Energy’s current headquarters building. Docomomo WEWA’s efforts also brought attention to the need for the protection of historic and cultural resources in Bellevue. Docomomo WEWA hopes to continue the dialog with the Bellevue preservation community and the City of Bellevue to encourage the establishment of an historic preservation ordinance and program in the City.