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Why Is This Landmark Called The ‘Flashcube’ Building?

Flashcube Building Kennewick
(Newstalk 870 image)

One of the most distinctive Tri-City landmarks has been back in the news lately, but many might not know why it’s called what it is.

The large building on the corner of Columbia Center Boulevard and Clearwater in Kennewick is commonly known as The Flashcube Building.  It was recently purchased by HAPO Credit Union, and getting attention for the largest digital readerboard in the Tri-Cities.   Plans are to rent out some of the space to other businesses.  The building has been back in the news for the recent purchase, and the readerboard, but what’s really behind the name?

After a lengthy search of public records,  we have been unable to turn up any ‘real’ or original name forthe 52,000 plus square foot structure that is (and has been since 1980) the tallest office building in Kennewick.  Until the construction of several of the hotels near the Toyota Center, it was the tallest building in which you could enter in town.  (the massive grain elevator on Clearwater does not count).

HAPO recently adorned the north and west corners of the structure with a huge digital neon billboard that lights up part of the city block at night.   But why is it called the Flashcube?   Older folks may know this one, but even younger generations call it that–perhaps without knowing.

In the years before digital cameras,  it was nearly impossible to take pictures in dark enviornments or at night without some sort of external lighting.   Enter the Polaroid Flashcube camera! Actually, Kodak pioneered the technology in the 1960′s but the Instamatic Camera became a huge hit, and remained in widespread use well into the 1980′s.   So much so, that when this huge office building was put up, residents couldn’t help but think it looked like a giant flashcube.   The name stuck, and the structure forever became known as The Flashcube Building.

Many younger generation folks have never seen a flashcube (camera) but many can recall the blinding strobe of light emitted by the square, often followed by the faint crispy “crackle” sound of the spent bulb cooling.  Mom and Dad often got mad at youngsters who played around with the Instamatic flashcubes just to watch the flash, and hear the sound.   So, now, you know the history of this iconic Tri-Cities Landmark!

KODAK instamatic camera
(courtesy e-bay website)

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