HeartBomb URMs!

There are 1,100 unreinforced masonry buildings in Seattle, and they serve affordable housing tenants, schools, community centers, libraries, beloved small businesses and more. In the event of a major earthquake, many are at risk.

What are URMs?

URM stands for unreinforced masonry. Approximately 1,100 buildings in Seattle qualify as URMs, and many are not retrofitted to withstand significant seismic activity. These places provide affordable housing and community gathering spaces, serve as schools and libraries, and much more; several are landmarks. These are places you know & love – see some examples by neighborhood below!

This list covers some of our favorite URM buildings in Seattle by neighborhood. Some have been retrofitted, proving that there is hope for the places we love that have not! Want more examples or to check the status of your favorite place? The full list of URMs can be found here.

What’s happening now?

In December, the Seattle City Council passed a resolution to develop a program that will create retrofit policy.

In February, Historic Seattle & our community partners HeartBombed URMs all around Seattle to draw attention to this public safety/historic preservation issue and encourage the Mayor and City Council to continue their work to address it.

On Valentine’s Day, the City Council issued a unanimous proclamation, noting:

“…Significant cultural and architectural Unreinforced Masonry (URM) buildings are some of Seattle’s most beloved community gathering places, the sweethearts, and icons of many neighborhoods. On this Valentine’s Day, the Seattle City Council is pledging its adoration for our architectural and cultural past while reimagining the future with safe, seismically upgraded masonry buildings.”

What is a HeartBomb?

HeartBombs are a form of advocacy and a fun and creative way to bring people together and raise awareness about what’s cherished in a community–a sort of city-wide love letter to places that matter. In years past, we’ve HeartBombed Key Arena, The Showbox, C&P Coffee, Bush Garden, and more. This year’s HeartBomb will focus on URM buildings around Seattle – places we know, love, and would hate to lose.

2022 HeartBombs


Thanks for your partnership, Friends of Historic Belltown, Friends of Georgetown History (FoGHi), Ballard Historical Society, Queen Anne Historical Society, Historic Wallingford, Save the Market Entrance, Historic South Downtown, Faul LLC, Gridiron/Daniels Real Estate, Seattle Procrastiknitters, Nienna133, URM residents/small businesses, Seattle Architecture Foundation, and Vanishing Seattle.