General Administration Building

Olympia

The Department of General Administration (GA) continues with plans to create an ambitious new Executive Office Plaza/Heritage Center despite its effect on this significant International Style building. The new structure would house executive offices, general offices, and functions related to the various agencies with heritage or history as its focus. The 1956 General Administration Building sits directly on the site where the new center is planned. The preferred plan calls for the demolition of the GA Building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the nomination, the GA Building “…is the first building to be constructed on the capitol campus since the Great Depression. It represents the significant growth of state government in Olympia, Washington following World War II, and specifically the re-centralization of government to Olympia mandated by Supreme Court order in 1954. The building is also historically significant…as an intact example of Modern architecture in Olympia, Washington. The building was designed by prominent Tacoma architect, A. Gordon Lumm, in the International style distinctive for its horizontal cubical form and spare ornamentation. Its exterior minimalist appearance and interior architectural flexibility, including movable aluminum wall panels, demonstrate a growing aesthetic for modular space able to easily accommodate changing space and technology requirements. In this case, a building that needed to serve a diversity of state agencies housed in one structure. The period of significance is 1956, the date the building was completed and occupied by state offices.”

On July 17, 2006, Docomomo WEWA Board members attended a public meeting for the Executive Office Plaza/Heritage Center project. Two previous public meetings were held to get input from the public about the project. Docomomo WEWA brought up concerns about how the GA Building’s historic significance has been ignored and not presented to the public. There is also a lack of understanding on the part of those involved with the project on why the GA Building qualifies for listing on the National Register.

Docomomo WEWA was interviewed by The Olympian in a front page cover article that took a look at the GA Building itself, rather than the proposed project.

If you are interested in reading the National Register Nomination for the GA Building, please contact us at info@docomomo-wewa.org, and we will forward a copy of the document to you. Docomomo WEWA will continue to follow the process on the GA Building and provide comment. If you’d like to learn more about the Executive Office Plaza/Heritage Center project, go to the GA website for more information.

General Administration Building, Olympia (1956)<br>Photo courtesy of DAHP.
SE Corner General Administration Building, Olympia (1956)<br>Photo courtesy of DAHP.
Jean Beal Mural in lobby of GA Building, Olympia (1956)<br>Photo courtesy of DAHP.
Detail of Exterior Walls, GA Building, Olympia(1956)<br>Photo courtesy of DAHP.
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General Administration Building, Olympia (1956)
Photo courtesy of DAHP.