Smith Tower

  • Location: 515 Washington Street
  • Use: Apartment Tower
  • Year: 1966
  • Type: Type One High-Rise
  • NRHP: N/A
Smith Tower circa 2021, taken form the 11th floor at Viewpoint, Vancouvercenter 3.

This is perhaps Vancouver’s most iconic building. It stands 15 stories tall and features a cylindrical design that looks suspiciously similar to the famous Capitol Records building in Los Angeles. The tower operates as Mid Columbia Manor, a 170 unit residential tower reserved for residents 62 years and older.

The tower is named for the original President of Mid-Columbia Manor, W.R. (Bill) Smith. When erected in 1966 it was the tallest inhabited structure in Vancouver and Clark County. Only the towering grain elevators at Terminal 2 were taller. Smith Tower replaced the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater as the tallest building in town. The latter having held the title since 1885.

The building remains a major structure in the Downtown skyline currently ranked #2 in height and #1 in floor count. Its one of the few remaining examples of urban Mid-Century Modern design in the Northwest and ought to be added to the Clark County Historic Register now that it is more than 50 years old.

The building takes up a very tight footprint on roughly a 1/4 block lot with parking underneath the tower and on an adjacent lot to the south. As new tall structures continue to rise up on Vancouver’s Waterfront, Smith Tower is now becoming obscured from the skyline from some vantage points. It should however remain an indelible part of the skyline when viewed from the Interstate Bridge and I-5 as it’s location right alongside the freeway will keep it a prominent structure for years to come. As it should.