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Free Open House Tour: Sunday, May 19
Designed by David Neiman, AIA
Photo Credit: Ed Sozinho
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Denice Johnson completed architecture studies at Tufts and MIT in 1976. She married John Hunt, also an architect, in 1978, and they made their home, with son Collin and daughter Julian, in Seattle.
After working in local architectural firms, Denice began to focus her career on urban design and large projects, in a series of positions with the City of Seattle - in her last professional role, as Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Norman B. Rice. With her unique gift for creating harmony among diverse ideas and people, she played a key role in shaping the policies and processes that have produced some of the city's major elements, including development of the Seattle waterfront, the downtown plan, Symphony Hall, and the African American Heritage Museum.
Denice's professional concerns also included commitment to community service and education. She served on the King County Historic Landmarks Board, and studied in Rome in 1990 as a Fellow of the Northwest Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in Italy.
With her knowledge and wit and outstanding communication abilities, she received frequent speaking invitations from community and professional groups. She particularly enjoyed working with young people and sharing her story as a woman of color who brought her special cultural experience to rich expression in architecture and urban design. A much-admired role model, she helped create opportunities for young people of minority and disadvantaged backgrounds to study design and planning, including serving on the national Scholarship Committee of The American Institute of Architects (AIA). Locally, as a founding member of the AIA Seattle Diversity Roundtable she helped establish diversity programs in practice and education, and served as AIA Seattle President in 1995-96 - the first woman of African American heritage to hold the highest elected office in an AIA component.
With the kind cooperation of Denice's family, AIA Seattle established (and the Diversity Roundtable has since endowed) the Denice Johnson Hunt K-12 Internship at the University of Washington College of Architecture & Urban Planning, to support design and planning in K-12 teaching and learning programs. Seattle's Low Income Housing Institute named a Greenwood-area development the Denice Hunt Townhomes, honoring her memory and her commitment to community.
Those who remembered Denice with contributions include Denice's mother, Dalthel M. Ling of New York, her loving family and many friends and professional colleagues in Seattle, Boston, Jamaica, and elsewhere.
Friends and colleagues joined in celebrating Denice's life on Wednesday January 7, 1998, 4pm at the Church of the Epiphany, Seattle.
Reference: A rare tree planted in a courtyard near the Maritime Heritage Museum on Seattle's central waterfront honors the memory of this architect and her public service.
An inscribed plaque cites "Denice Johnson Hunt's commitment to the enrichment of the Central Waterfront Project, the City of Seattle, and the rejuvenation of Seattle's historic waterfront," and references the graceful tree as "a living reminder of the power of one person to make the world a better place."
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