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Photo Credit: Lara Swimmer

 

AIA Seattle Medalist 1987: Albert O. Bumgardner FAIA

Born on an Illinois farm in 1923, Al Bumgardner originally set out to become a teacher, and in his career as an architect expressed his commitment to shared exploration and learning in communicating with clients, fellow professionals, and the public.

Al served in the Army Air Corps during WWII before attending the University of Illinois School of Architecture where he graduated summa cum laude 1949, and a month later moved to Seattle. In 1953 he established a Seattle architectural practice, which became known as The Bumgardner Architects.

Al Bumgardner created a legacy not only of significant work that helped shape the form and urban experience of Seattle, but of a family of professionals he nurtured in practice and in teaching (as visiting professor at Montana State University and at the University of Washington), as well as in professional leadership that included an extended term as AIA Seattle President 1962-63. By mayoral appointment, he became the first chair of the Seattle Design Commission. He directed the drafting of the ordinance creating the Pioneer Square historic district, the first such district in Seattle. His leadership also included service to University Preparatory Academy, Historic Seattle, Allied Arts of Seattle, the Washington Roadside Council, and Environmental Works.

Widely recognized early in his career for his innovative designs for houses (including several cited with AIA Seattle Honor Awards), Al built his one-man practice into the firm responsible for design of many of Seattle's most-admired buildings at significant sites along Seattle's central waterfront, downtown, and elsewhere throughout the city: the six-block neighborhood redevelopment known as Waterfront Place, which includes Watermark Tower, the Alexis Hotel, and Waterfront Place Building; the University of Washington's South Campus Center and site improvements to the Rainier Vista and Triangle parking garages; Market Place North and the Market Place offices; renovation of Queen Anne High School into apartments; renovation of Ivar's Pier 54; the original Uwajimaya; Pacific Plaza Hotel, the Sorrento Hotel, and the original Intiman Theatre at Seattle Center Playhouse. The firm's projects also included Seattle's Waterfront Park (located between Piers 57 and 59), for which Al conducted 47 public presentations which ultimately achieved a consensus among business, public and environmental groups on the shape of the park occupying a prominent site on Seattle's central waterfront.

A man of great charm and wit whose many friends also admired his impeccable fashion taste, Al Bumgardner hosted famous and widely-attended annual office parties at The Bumgardner Architects.

Shortly before his death (July 10, 1987), Al Bumgardner learned of his colleagues' recognition of his singularly distinguished professional contributions with the highest award given to an architect, the AIA Seattle Medal. His generous bequest to the AIA Seattle Foundation Endowment Fund made possible a major step in the growth of the organization today known as Seattle Architectural Foundation.


Ralph Anderson, Al Bumgardner, Ibsen Nelsen, Fred Bassetti, Victor Steinbrueck (photo by Mary Randlett)


A. O. Bumgardner FAIA

 

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