AKA: University of Washington, Seattle (UW), College of Architecture and Urban Planning Building

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

Designers: Miller Hull Partnership, LLP (firm); Sellen, John H., Construction Company, Incorporated (firm); Stern, Richard M. and Associates (firm); Travis, Beverly A., and Associates, Electrical Engineer (firm); Zema and Streissguth, Associated Architects (firm); Robert Albrecht (structural engineer); Paul Benedict (architect); Grant Hildebrand (architect/architectural historian); Robert E. Hull (architect); David Edward Miller (architect); Nels Vernon Nelson (building contractor/carpenter); Claus Seligmann (architect); John Henry Sellen Sr. (building contractor/civil engineer); Richard M. Stern (architect); Daniel Michener Streissguth (architect); Einar Svensson (structural engineer); Beverly A. Travis (electrical engineer); Gene Kapiton Zema (architect)

Dates: constructed 1971

4 stories

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3949 15th Avenue NE
University District, Seattle, WA 98195-5730

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Gould Hall occupies the southwest corner of the intersection at NE 40th Street and 15th Avenue NE.


A team of talented designers collaborated on the design of Gould Hall. Daniel Streissguth and Gene Zema led this group, with contributions by Grant Hildebrand, Claus Seligmann and Dale Benedict. The building had a long process of planning and construction, with program work beginning in 12/1964. An early scheme prepared by this team c. 1968-1969 was rejected by the University of Washington Architectural Commission (UWAC). Streissguth and Zema made alterations in 1970, resulting in UWAC approval. Construction occurred in 1970 with partial occupancy by Spring 1971. Full occupancy did not occur until the fall of 1972.

Building History

The building, named for the founder of the University of Washington (UW) architecture program in 1914, has four floors, each shaped around a central atrium. Architects Streissguth and Zema, UW faculty members, were charged with designing a building to house classrooms and studios serving four departments: Architecture, Construction Management, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design and Planning, fields that often seemed separated from one another.

This building was designed to facilitate chance encounters amongst the professions and to inform them of work being done in the four fields. Visual connection was allowed by windows glazing each classroom and office lining the atrium. Additionally, serendipitous meetings occur frequently on the building's dramatically sculptural central stairway.

The UW formed the College of Architecture and Urban Planning in 1957, and during the 1960s, added landscape architecture and construction management to its portfolio. At about this time, a number of architecture schools on the West Coast acknowledged the need to promote collaboration among the design disciplines in the late 1950s. This included the University of Washington and the University of California, Berkeley, (with its College of Environmental Design) established by Dean William Wurster in 1959.

Design of the new architecture building began in about 1964, when research was compiled to ascertain the college's needs. In 1964-1965 an Ad Hoc Committee for Programming an Addition to Architecture and Urban Planning Building made a detailed report on the current needs of the college, possible sites for a new building and programmatic needs of the college. It was developed by the members of the committee, that included Daniel Streissguth, Chair, and Boyer Gonzales, Richard Haag, Charles Norris, John Rohrer, William Wherrette and Myer Wolfe. (See Daniel Streissguth, et al., Report of Ad Hoc Committee for Programming an Addition to Architecture and Urban Planning Building, University of Washington, typescript, 01/1965 [Seattle: University of Washington, 1965].)

Planning had progressed significantly by 1967, so that a new site had been chosen across 15th Avenue NE to the west. The new building was seen as an important new catalyst to draw together the faculty and to energize the student population. Student activism was at a high point in the late 1960s when Gould Hall was being planned, and periodic demonstrations for a variety of causes (many related to the Vietnam War) had affected campus life. The University of Washington Tyee Yearbook stated in 1967: “The College of Architecture and Urban Planning has been allotted a new lot just beyond the campus boundary upon which to build its new home, The plans have already been approved and the building is scheduled to be completed in 1968. The college morale is on the upswing in growing anticipation of a new and modern home base.” The yearbook page added, “Student problems and frustrations are aired at the monthly faculty-student committee meetings, a new plan to evolve recommendations and changes for the benefit of the college.”(See Daniel Streissguth and Gene Zema, "College of Architecture Draws Up Plans for New Structure," University of Washington, Tyee Yearbook, 1967, n.p.)

Architects Streissguth and Gene Zema formulated an earlier design proposal c. 1968 for Gould Hall that was not accepted by the UW Campus Architectural Commission. The design team for this first conception included Streissguth and Zema, "with" Dale Benedict, Grant Hildebrand and Claus Seligman, all architects. They collaborated with Robert Albrecht and Einar Svensson, structural engineers; Richard Stern, mechanical engineer; Beverly A. Travis and Associates, electrical engineers; Robin M. Towne and Associates, acoustical engineer; and Frederick M. Mann, UW University Architect. This larger and more expensive project was to occur in two construction phases, the first completing 104,544 gross square feet (gsf) and the second would add 40,817 gsf, for a total of 145, 361 gsf. The time frame for completion was set between 1970 and 1974. The proposed Phase I if building for the College is designed to accommodate programs and enrollments anticipated by 1970--this solution is presented here in its Design Development Stage. Concurrently, a building addition incorporating Phase 2 requirements of a total facility, anticipated after 1970, has been developed in Schematic Designs, but is not shown in this brochure." (See Daniel Streissguth and Gene Zema, Proposed Building for the College of Architecture & Urban Planning, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, [Seattle, University of Washington, Seattle (UW), c. 1968.] pp. 1-4, 6.)

The site for this new UW Architecture and Urban Planning Building was described in the Proposed Building for the College of Architecture & Urban Planning, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington: "The building site is approximately the north 1/2 of the block bounded by 15th Avvenue Northeast on the east (360'), University Way Northeast on the west (400'), and Northeast 40th Street on the north (216'). This area is presently occupied by buildings of residential and semi-commercial nature, and all will be demolished and removed with funds allocated under construction costs. except two structures as follows: Architecture Annex--a three story frame brick veneered building presently used as a studio and office space by the College of Architecture and Urban Planning--is to remain occupied until the proposed new facility is ready, and then is to be removed. Avian Physiology Laboratory--a single story frame building used for a project experiment of limited duration--will be removed when such experiment is concluded. Both these buildings are located at the northwest and northeast corners of the site, occupying approximately 40 feet by 216 feet at the north end of the block." (See Daniel Streissguth and Gene Zema, Proposed Building for the College of Architecture & Urban Planning, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, [Seattle, University of Washington, Seattle (UW), c. 1968.] p. 5.) The presence of these two existing laboratory buildings accounted for deep setback of Gould Hall from NE 40th Street.

As formulated in 1968 by Streissguth and Zema, Gould Hall had a large footprint, with a roughly 64-foot square internal atrium and a three-floor wing projecting backward toward the south. They planned this three-floor southern wing to house a woodworking shop and two large laboratory spaces on the two-floor basement level and an expansive library on the second. In the as-built design, the atrium was made a relative narrow rectangle, its long dimension oriented east-west, and the three-story southern wing was greatly reduced in size. The alterations were likely made to save money and conserve land to the south on which to build future campus buildings.

Architects Gene Zema and Daniel Streissguth may have had a wide number of influences on their design.The building's plan had a symmetry and regularity that was quite traditional in nature, although the location of stair towers and bathrooms on corner peripheries may have been influenced by Louis I. Kahn's concept of "servant and served spaces." Its béton brut structure, with the imprints of wooden form boards left in the final product, was a popular taste for the time, deriving from the work of many architects, including Kahn, Le Corbusier, and Alison and Peter Smithson, to name a few. This Brutalist aesthetic was highly popular among leading architectural theorists such as the Smithsons and their Team 10 colleagues, who were imbued with an ethical preference for durable and down-to-earth materials. While the Smithsons' socialist principles may or may not have been shared by Zema and Streissguth, the taste for rugged proletarian aesthetics was widespread in architectural academia.

Another significant architectural idea that had wide currency when the design for Gould Hall was being considered, was the use of an atrium. Various models during the 1960s made the atrium very visible in architectural literature. Particularly notable were Paul Rudolph's controversial design for the Yale School of Architecture Building (New Haven, CT, 1963) and Roche-Dinkeloo's Ford Foundation Headquarters (New York, NY, 1963-1968), with its five-story atrium, both of which were widely discussed. Rudolph's building, especially, had some aesthetic parallels to Gould Hall, although its atrium was neither as grand nor unifying as that of Gould Hall. The Yale Building also drew attention as it burned mysteriously on 06/14/1969, a fire that has never been officially solved.

The busy, urban setting of Gould Hall prompted the architects to use an atrium plan focused inward. The 1968 proposal for Gould Hall pamphlet stated: "Because of the surrounding traffic, disposition of building spaces is somewhat introvert, though in compensation for this near-necessary retreat, building entrances, stairs and internal circulations have been placed and formed to encourage easy pedestrian traffic within the proposed building, between it and its surrounding pedestrian ways, and the older campus. It is intended that the proposed building relate to form, scale, and color of its existing campus neighbors, though it is somewhat removed from them." (See Proposed Building for the College of Architecture & Urban Planning, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, [Seattle, University of Washington, Seattle (UW), c. 1968.] pp. 6-7.)

Architects have moved away from the use of atria in contemporary buildings. Fire and energy codes would likely preclude their use in 2022, but Gould Hall's atrium achieved great success both visually and symbolically. It allowed light to filter into interior studios and enabled courtyard activities to be seen from various perspectives on all four floors. The striking, central staircases also provided long sightlines, enabling people to see one another well, facilitating spontaneous interactions or longer discussions. The ring of balconies on three upper levels also enabled viewers to watch critiques and presentations taking place in the first-floor courtyard, unifying the experiences of diverse departments. The building's wide-open, central courtyard can be repurposed for a variery of uses, making the building flexible for many purposes. The atrium's one downside was its acoustics, which made hearing conversations or lectures occasionally challenging, particularly for those with hearing disabilities.

At one time in the 2000s, a proposal surfaced to add a transparent tower of meeting spaces on one side of the central courtyard. The sanctity of this shared central space remained powerful enough to cause administrators to scuttle the idea unceremoniously. This central space had a strong symbolism for people, as it was verstile, common ground in the heart of a diverse college filled with individuals with strong tastes and opinions.

The University of Washington Board of Regents voted to name this building for Carl F. Gould, Sr., on 02/19/1971.

Building Notes

Nels Nelson was the Job Superintendent for the John Sellen Construction Company on this project. In 1968-1969, the project team included: Robert Albrecht and Einar Svensson, structural engineers; Richard Stern, mechanical engineer; Beverly A. Travis and Associates, electrical engineer. Robin M. Towne and Associates, acoustical engineer. The architects, construction company and assembled engineers worked with University Architect Frederick M. Mann on the project.

Of the first proposed 1968 design scheme, the architects discussed its basic conceptual parameters. They emphasized the design's flexibility to adjust to recent and anticipated curricular and professional changes: "College curricula are changing, in some areas radically, in response to changes in the nature of education, society and of the served industries and professions. Teaching methods and student needs are rapidly evolving. Research activities are proliferating in the College; needs for facilities for urban studies, space and structures simulation, materials testing, etc., are emerging. Flexibility within any proposed facility is therefore mandatory. Proposed then, is a building of large, unbroken horizontal floor areas permitting reassignment and rearrangement of spaces as needs emerge and change. Toward this goal, studies have indicated building wings of the order of 45 feet wide to acccommodate a variety of spatial needs, and at the same time permit reasonable outlook and natural light and air for occupants. Wings of this dimension can economically be single structural spans, yielding column free interiors; clustering the necessary fixed elements (stairs, toilets, vertical mechanism chases), allows continuous usable building spaces--even alternate placing of building corridor systems is possible. Modular framing and partitions systems serve also to assist in internal rearrangement." The programmatic focus on flexibility reflected the upheaval in social conventions and standards prevalent during the late 1960s. (See Daniel Streissguth and Gene Zema, Proposed Building for the College of Architecture & Urban Planning, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, [Seattle, University of Washington, Seattle (UW), c. 1968.] p. 7.)

The atrium of the original 1968 plan was to have been wider than as built, about 64 feet square. The architects said of the central court: "The given site dimension, and the consolidation of interior spaces in wings 45 feet wide, have yielded an open space, or court, around which the building wings have become organized. The court, first conceived as open to the sky, has ultimately become covered to make it useful the year around as site for experimental or demonstration projects, assembly, and exhibition space. The court roof is shaped to reinforce the ascending building profile, accepts future additions, and is partially glazed to admit controlled amounts of natural illumination. Building circulation systems, both human and mechanical, surround the court on each floor; the court becomes therefore, a strong focus for the entire composition and College." (See Daniel Streissguth and Gene Zema, Proposed Building for the College of Architecture & Urban Planning, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, [Seattle, University of Washington, Seattle (UW), c. 1968.] p. 7.)


On Gould's west side, a classroom, Room 100, was created out of the original University Way NE entryway.

On 06/23/2014, construction began on a remodeling project that would add a gallery space to the first and second floors of Gould Hall's east side. The east side entryway space was transformed into design studio spaces on floor 1 and an exhibition space on floor 2, designed by the firm of Miller Hull. The gallery space would project slightly into the east portion of Gould Court, just above and behind the cafe.

Aside from alterations of classrooms for other uses, such as provision for the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, the 2014 exhibition space project was one of the largest remodeling efforts undertaken in Gould Hall since its construction in 1971.

PCAD id: 6068