AKA: University of Washington, Seattle, Foster, Michael G., School of Business Administration, Balmer, Thomas, Hall, Seattle, WA

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

Designers: Kirk, Wallace, McKinley AIA and Associates, Architects (firm); Paul Hayden Kirk (architect); David A. McKinley Jr. (architect); Donald Sheridan Wallace (architect)

Dates: constructed 1961-1962, demolished 2010

3 stories

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University of Washington, Seattle, WA

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The Seattle architectural firm of Kirk, Wallace and McKinley and Associates obtained a number of commissions at the University of Washington during the fifteen years between 1960 and 1975, Two jobs for the UW College of Business Administration, Ballmer Hall, and MacKenzie Hall, were the two earliest. The projects included the large dormitories--Haggett and McMahon Halls--and two important Red Square buildings, Odegaard Undergraduate Library and Meany Hall #2. Within the Kirk, Wallace and McKinley firm, Paul Hayden Kirk (1914-1995) and David A. McKinley, Jr., (b. 1930) served as the main designers. Kirk, who made his reputation in the late 1940s and 1950s doing houses, clinics and churches, had a more active hand in design during the early 1960s than the late, although he consulted with his firm throughout the 1970s.

Building History

Constructed of pre-cast concrete, Ballmer Hall had a conventional Modern appearance, an unornamented rectangle that accommodated double-loaded corridors of offices and classrooms. The exterior was understated, its walls clad in concrete aggregate. Its design mirrored that of MacKenzie Hall built one year prvious to the south, and the two were connected by a skybridge before the demolition of Ballmer in 2010.

This UW Business School Building was named for Thomas Balmer (1888-1959), a railroad and real estate executive, who served on the University of Washington Board of Regents from 1945-1959, including as President. His papers are held at the University of Washington Libraries, Department of Special Collections, Thomas Balmer Papers, 1909-1959, Manuscript Collection #0159. (See "Preliminary Guide to the Thomas Balmer Papers," University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections Division; accessed 03/12/2015.) According to this guide, Balmer worked with the Pacific American Fisheries, 1940-1959; San Juan Farm Association; Times Investment Company, 1900-1928, 1950; Triangle Real Estate Company, 1940-1953; United States Interior Department Alaska Railway, 1953-1956; Regent of University of Washington, 1945-1959; and Western Counsel for Great Northern Railroad.

Building Notes

In 2009, this was one of five buildings occupied by the Foster School of Business on the Seattle campus and in Kirkland, WA.

Demolition Notes

In 2007, this International Style office and classroom building was set to be demolished in the coming five years. Foster Business School administrators wanted to upgrade their facilities to improve ratings and recruitment, and found Ballmer lacking practicality and aesthetic appeal. Aside from terming it the "ugliest building on campus," a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article stated in 2007: "School officials say Balmer's biggest problem is lack of classroom space, and the flat-floored rooms aren't set up to accommodate student interaction, as tiered classrooms are. The school just recently did away with the chairs with a folding writing table that had been fixtures in classes for decades." (See Amy Rolph, UW to replace the 'ugliest building on campus'," Seattle Post-Intelligencer.com, 11/11/2007; accessed 03/12/2015.) The demolition process occurred in 10-12/2010.

PCAD id: 8382