AKA: University of Washington, Seattle (UW), Sieg, Lee Paul, Hall, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Harmon, Pray and Detrich, Architects and Engineers (firm); Robert Carl Detrich (architect); Craig A. Harmon (architect); Roland Gilbert Pray Sr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1959-1960

4 stories

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3960 Benton Lane NE
University of Washington, Seattle, Campus, Seattle, WA 98195

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Before the age of contextual architecture in the 1980s, Sieg Hall was designed to mirror the Gothic architecture of Suzzallo Library and the Jacobethan styling of the neighboring Quad buildings. The Seattle Times stated, "An unusual window design which will harmonize contemporary architecture with the traditional Gothic style is planned for a new $970,000 General Engineering Building at the University of Washington." (See "Regents Approve Building Plans, Seattle Times, 06/21/1958, p. 3.) The architects hoped to marry the straightforward structural expression common to Modernism, with certain simplified stylistic motifs drawn from the Gothic, such as the geometric detailing at the parapet line. As the College of Engineering web site summed it up, "Few people were happy with the result." Some have called Sieg Hall one of the homeliest buildings on the UW Campus, and other designs by the Seattle architectural firm of Harmon, Pray and Dietrich, such as the King County Administration Building #2, have been lightning-rods for aesthetic criticism. Seen in its historical perspective, Sieg Hall's awkwardness and eccentricity has an odd appeal, particularly in its early and sincere efforts to unify contemporary and historic styles.

Building History

Opened in 1960 at cost of $1,200,000, the building was built to house the College of Engineering, which occupied it from 1960-1972. The Regents of the University of Washington named the building for Lee Paul Sieg (1879-1963), University of Washington (UW) President from 1934-1946, on 08/18/1972.

Sieg Hall accommodated the Department of Computer Science from 1975-2003. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering did move back into a floor of Sieg Hall c. 2014, due to a shortage of space in the new Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering. The building articulated its steel frame on the exterior, with the curtain wall ornamented with aggregate concrete panels.

Building Notes

As originally configured, the General Engineering Hall contained 26 classrooms, 36 offices, a model shop, blueprint room, and a 160-seat auditorium (Room 134), and contained 56,000 square feet. It covered a 13,700 square feet parcel, to the west of the Husky Union Building (HUB). Cost in 05/1959, according to a newspaper report, was $1,000,000. (See "Going Up," Seattle Times, 05/15/1959, p. 20.)

A documentary film of the construction of Sieg Hall is held in the Department of Special Collections, University of Washington, Seattle.


Sieg Hall had remodeling done in 1973, after the College of Engineering moved out, and in 1975 for the incoming Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE).

In the late 1990s, portions of the concrete aggregate sheathing the columns and curtain wall begain to fall from the building. In an effort to gain the attention and favor of prospective graduate students, the CSE Department would gather up some of these concrete chunks from the ground and send pieces home with visitors. CSE Professor Ed Lazowska stated: "Making the best of a sorry situation, we inaugurated a new tradition in 1999: we sent every visiting prospective graduate student home with 'a piece of the rock.'" (See Ed Lazowska, "Beautiful Sieg Hall -- "The Pride of UW," accessed 03/12/2015.)In some cases, giving away bits of the building did help recruitment efforts. According to Lazowska's site repairs to cover the crumbling aggregate facing occurred in 2000. He wrote: "In an effort to preserve Beautiful Sieg Hall for future generations, the University of Washington has completed a six-month, $178,408.57 project to slap painted steel cosmetic sheathing over the columns." (See Ed Lazowska, "Beautiful Sieg Hall -- "The Pride of UW," accessed 03/12/2015.)

PCAD id: 3322