Please Support the Seattle Landmark Nomination of an Important Modernist Site

Battelle/Talaris campus / Photo: Marissa Natkin, copyright 2011

Battelle/Talaris campus / Photo: Marissa Natkin, copyright 2011

At its September 18, 2013 meeting, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) will consider the landmark nomination of the former Battelle Memorial Institute (BMI) Seattle Research Center site located at 4000 NE 41st St. in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood.

Historic Seattle supports the nomination of the property and we ask you to show your support through written comments to the Landmarks Preservation Board and/or provide public testimony in person at the meeting. The Wednesday, September 18 meeting begins at 3:30 PM in the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Avenue, 40th Floor in Room 4060. An agenda will be posted on the Seattle Historic Preservation website. Send written comments by Monday, September 16, 2013 to:


Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board
c/o Erin Doherty, Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator

Or by Mail:

Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board
Seattle Dept. of Neighborhoods
P.O. Box 94649
Seattle, WA  98124-4649

Prompted by concerns for proposed future redevelopment plans for the site, the Friends of Battelle/Talaris (FOBT) formed to produce the landmark nomination report. FOBT is a grassroots group of Laurelhurst neighbors who have come together as advocates for the preservation of the Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center/Talaris Conference Center. Historic Seattle has been providing technical assistance and advice on landmark nomination preparation, research and advocacy strategy for the Friends of Battelle/Talaris.

The 18-acre property is owned by 4000 Property LLC. The site is currently used as the Talaris Conference Center. For more information about recent redevelopment proposals, go to the Talaris Living website.

Historic photo of Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center ca. 1967 / Source: unknown publication; from the Collection of Eugenia Woo

Historic photo of Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center ca. 1967 / Source: unknown publication; from the Collection of Eugenia Woo

Why is the Battelle Memorial Institute Property Significant?

The former Battelle campus is unique and significant because it represents an outstanding example of Northwest Modernist landscape and architecture integrally designed, master planned and constructed in two phases in 1965-67 and 1970-1971. Originally designed by landscape architecture firm Rich Haag Associates and architecture firm NBBJ, the site benefited from a collaborative effort by two of the most prominent and well-respected firms in Seattle and the nation. It is an outstanding example of the work of these two firms. As the only research campus of its type in Seattle at the time, it is associated in a significant way with a significant aspect (science and technology) of the cultural and economic heritage of the city. Because of its prominence of spatial location, contrast of siting, and scale, it is an easily identifiable visual feature of Laurelhurst and contributes to the distinctive quality and identity of the neighborhood. The site, landscape and buildings also retain a remarkably high level of integrity.

To learn more about the property’s history and significance, download a pdf of the nomination report through the Seattle Historic Preservation Program’s website.

The property has also been determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the State Architectural Historian at the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.

The Battelle Memorial Institute/Talaris was included in the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2013 Most Endangered Properties List. It was also included in The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s “Landslide” at-risk properties for 2013.

Preservation advocacy is most effective at the local level, particularly when it involves community advocates who have a passion for heritage and preservation. Historic Seattle will continue to support the efforts of the neighborhood preservationists.