June 11, 2014

Memorial June 15 for UW photographer, lecturer John Stamets

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John Stamets

John Stamets

John Stamets, longtime University of Washington photographer and lecturer in the Department of Architecture, died last weekend. He was 64. He is remembered as a talented photographer and a dedicated teacher and mentor to students.

There will be a public celebration of Stamets’ life and work from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 15, in the courtyard on the main floor of Gould Hall.

Stamets joined the UW faculty in 1992 and ran the Architecture Photo Lab in the basement of Gould Hall. He designed a photography class for future architects and a “special projects” class where students photographed a single subject in depth.

“John has been a key member of our college community for the past 22 years and will be greatly missed by all of us,” said Jeffrey Ochsner, professor of architecture and associate dean for academic affairs of the College of Built Environments. “We offer his family our condolences at this time of great loss.”

Stamets specialized in documenting the rise and fall of historic buildings with large-format photography. In 2011 he covered the UW’s expansion of new buildings on the west side of campus in a blog aptly titled “Here Comes the Neighborhood.”

He also photographed construction of the Seattle Central Public Library and the Experience Music Project, the rehabilitation of King Street Station and many other building projects. He published the book Portrait of a Market in 1987 with writer Steve Dunnington.

Friends say Stamets always carried a camera, partly because he was convinced the Aurora Bridge would collapse and he wanted the shot.

That never happened, but at 10:07 a.m. on Feb. 25, 1987, he got one of the most historic sequences of photographs in UW history, capturing the collapse of the 17,000-seat addition to Husky Stadium.

Told earlier of a crack in the structure’s steel framework, Stamets found a nearby position and waited, camera in hand.

“I was totally psyched. I just started shooting,” he told the editor of Columns, the UW Alumni Association magazine. “Then it started to go. I thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s happening right now.’ I had been standing there for only 10 minutes.”

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