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 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 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 University of Washington 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 "College of Architecture Draws Up Plans for New Structure," University of Washington, Tyee Yearbook, 1967, n.p.)

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.

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.


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