Jeffrey Karl Ochsner is a University of Washington professor of architecture and associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Built Environments. He edited both editions of “Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects.” Ochsner answered a few questions for UW Today.
Q: The 1994 publication of “Shaping Seattle Architecture” marked the 100th anniversary of the American Institute of Architects in Seattle. What was the reason for a second edition now, 20 years later?
A: The 1994 edition was reprinted in 1998, but has been out of print since about 2006. It would have been possible to reprint again, but since 1994 there has been 20 years of new research that the editorial board and I wanted to include. In addition, in the two decades since the first edition we have gained more historical perspective on the second half of the 20th century and we wanted to include more architects who contributed to Seattle’s built environment in that time period. We also wanted to include updates and new illustrations in some of the 1994 essays.
Q: This edition includes profiles of four architects not in the original edition. How did you decide which architects to include in the new edition?
There will be a book launch at 6 p.m., Aug. 6, at Peter Miller Books, 2326 Second Ave., in Seattle.
A: Working with UW Press, we determined that we could include a few additional essays as well as updates to the 48 essays in the previous book. The editorial board and I engaged in a lengthy discussion about whom to include.
In the 1994 edition, we included Edwin Ivey in the Elizabeth Ayer essay; in this edition Ivey gets his own essay, which also allows us to include more of Ayer’s later work. Fred Bassetti was still active in 1994, but once he retired from practice we felt we had to include him because he was so important.
Rich Haag was a similar case — as founder of the UW landscape architecture program and as a key figure in the development of landscape architecture in this region. And Jane Hastings was a leading figure, a successful practitioner who has won numerous accolades and also served as chancellor of the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows.
Q: Also new to the second edition is an essay on architects and suburban housing before and after World War II. How differently does an architect work when creating a design that will be repeated many times in subdivisions?
A: The 1994 edition tended to emphasize the roles architects played as creators of custom designs for individual clients. However, architects also played roles in shaping what is sometimes called “production housing” — designs that are repeated with variations in single-family residential subdivisions.
These designs are often produced taking account of the specific needs of the developer and may be offered as prototypes that are examples of the kinds of houses a developer intends to build. Readers may be surprised to see the number of different Seattle architects who, at one point or another in their careers, worked with developers or builders designing this kind of housing.
Q: The book has a substantial reference section at the back. What does this section embrace, and how has it been updated since 1994?
A: The editorial board and I believed updating the appendices was especially important as a way of keeping the book as a useful reference. More changes were made there than to any other part of the book. The “sources of information” for each of the architects now includes publications that appeared in the last 20 years. The address lists have been corrected and updated (including removal of buildings that were destroyed).
The biggest changes are found in short entries for “additional architects” who were significant in Seattle’s history: In 1994 we included about 85 additional architects — now we have more than 250, including many who practiced in the second half of the 20th century. Finally, the appendix by David Rash titled “Researching Seattle’s Architectural Past” has been completely updated and expanded to include digital resources.
One thing that may not be immediately apparent is the number of architects included who have UW connections. With the expansion of the “additional architects” appendix, a very long list of UW faculty and graduates is now included.
Q: What lessons might a reader learn about the changing nature of architecture and design from this book?
A: The editorial board and I wanted to show the wide variety of kinds of architectural achievement and the extraordinary diversity of those who contributed to making Seattle’s built environment. The book includes over 600 photographs, so it really shows a wide range of what has been done by the architects of Seattle.