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The McDonald-Smith Building completed a row of rehabilitated warehouse buildings for the University of Washington Tacoma campus along Pacific Avenue. It features retail space at street level and classrooms, meeting rooms, and offices on the upper floors.
The building was erected as three separate but identical structures by different owners: the first two structures to the north were built in 1890, while the third was constructed in 1893. Like the earlier Davies Building and Reese, Crandall and Redman Building to its north, the McDonald-Smith Building is four stories tall, has a cast-iron facade at street level, and features a decorative cornice. It also shares a similar scheme of ornamental brickwork on its Pacific Avenue facade to its neighbors, but its narrower arched windows on the fourth level; large, segmental arched windows on the second level; and lighter-colored brick marking keystones and capitals on the overall red brick facade provide some differentiation. As with many turn-of-the-century warehouses, large windows were needed for daylight, and the windows flood the interior with natural light. Before its conversion to a university building, the structure housed a wholesale grocery company and a wholesale hay, grain, and feed store.
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