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How The '12 Building' That Lights Up The Seattle Skyline Comes To Life

To honor Seahawks fans' support of their team's playoff run, the Russell Investments Center in downtown Seattle will light up with a giant '12' on Friday night.

The giant '12' that lights up the water-facing side of Russell Investments Center in downtown Seattle – increasingly known as the "12 Building" to locals – begins with an Excel map and a clipboard.

Starting Friday, Jan. 15 at about 4 p.m., Matt Hale and his team at CommonWealth Partners will traverse the 17 floors involved in the 350-foot light display, opening blinds and consulting their clipboards. This can take up to four hours.

"We close all the blinds on the west side of the building, then go through each floor and open blinds based on this map," said Hale, property manager for CommonWealth Partners, which owns the Russell Investments Center.

This marks the third consecutive year of the 12 light display in its current incarnation, which typically precedes primetime home games. In addition to the 12, the building projects a 30-foot Seahawks logo and 12 flag on either side of its roof.

Fans may recall the first time a 12 lit up the building – before the Seahawks appeared in its first Super Bowl in 2006. The building was owned by Washington Mutual then, and the design was slightly less elaborate than the one fans see today.

"It was a straight line of windows and then kind of a block 2," Hale said. "We tried to make it as close as we could to the [12] flag, so we mapped it out using Excel."

Admittedly, it's hard to keep the 12 looking just right – a motion sensor might turn off the lights, or a tenant might want to open the blinds.

"It's really hard to keep it perfect for very long," Hale said. "If it's perfect for a few hours, then that's where the pictures come from."

The building's tenants, which include Zillow and Nordstrom, are supportive of the effort, Hale said. The 42-story building's layout and floor-to-ceiling glass façade make it the perfect canvas for shouting its support of a city and its team.

"It's fun. Not all buildings can do this, so I think they feel like we do – that it's kind of a unique thing," said Hale, a Mercer Island native who grew up a fan of Seahawks Kenny Easley and Jim Zorn. "We're the only ones that can do it, so let's do it.

"And when they win again, we'll do it next week."

Take a walk down memory lane with photos from all 10 Divisional playoff game the Seahawks have ever played, including last year's matchup against the Carolina Panthers who the Seahawks face once again in a Divisional playoff game on Sunday. 

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