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Male, US, born 1924-10-21, died 2010-10-24

Associated with the firms network

Anderson, Ralph D., Architect; Anderson, Ralph D., and Partners, Architects

Professional History


Military service, US Army Air Corps (USAAC), Boca Raton Field, Boca Raton, FL, c. 1942-1945; he became sick and was not sent to combat during the war. He was stationed at Boca Raton Field, where the USAAC maintained a technical training command center and its RADAR technical school.

Draftsman, Paul Hayden Kirk, Architect, c. 1951-1954; Anderson worked for Paul Hayden Kirk when the firm was beginning to formulate its Regional Modern approach to design, an approach that strongly affected Anderson's own career.

Principal, Ralph D. Anderson, Architect, Seattle, WA, 1955-1972.

Partner, Ralph Anderson and Partners, Architects, Seattle, WA, c. 1973; he was partners with T. William Booth and Robert Koch. Of his independent practice, his obituary stated: "Considered one of [the] founding fathers of the 'Northwest Style,' Ralph was a visionary and uniquely respected architect and mentor to several renowned Seattle architects. His numerous architectural works are located worldwide, including residential and commercial projects in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Turkey."
(See, "Ralph D. Anderson," published 10/31/2010, accessed 09/14/2018.)

Professional Service

Anderson served as one of the most important figures in the redevelopment of the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Downtown Seattle, WA, in the 1960s. During the late 1950s, Anderson operated an office at 108 S. Jackson Street in Pioneer Square, being one of the first architects to locate there. He became interested in the place and took out a second mortgage to buy the First Jackson Building. In 1960, Anderson purchased the Union Trust Building in Pioneer Square from prominent landlord, Sam Israel. (According to Anderson, this was the only building Israel ever sold!) This became one of the earliest reclamation projects of a brick industrial/office building in Pioneer Square, and served as the site for Anderson's architectural practice. Approximately three years later, he bought the Fisher Studio Building and converted it to live/work lofts, (living and working there after his kids went to college) probably the first use instance of this occurring in the neighborhood. Anderson was friendly with Richard White, an art gallery owner, who also had an interest in rehabilitating buildings in this area. By 1963, a number of other investors--most prominently the developer Alan Black--were impressed with the efforts of Anderson and White, and joined in the area's renovation process.

By the late 1960s, preservation efforts had proceeded to a point where a National Register District was formed and the Seattle City government extended legal protection to Pioneer Square in the early 1970s. In his own estimation, Anderson considered himself a "poor man's Roland Terry." (See Dean Stahl, "Taking The Long View," Seattle Times Pacific Magazine, 07/29/2007,Accessed 09/16/2009.) Anderson never joined the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and had little use for other professional organizations; this did not mean that he did not assist younger architects in gaining experience. Many prominent practitioners worked in the Anderson office during the 1960s and 1970s, including Jim Olson, George Suyama, T. William Booth, and many others. His obituary quoted Suyama recalling his time in his office: "It 'was a melting pot of all these great, creative juices,' Suyama said. Mr. Anderson, he said, "was a very nurturing and very giving person" who gave younger architects the same creative freedom and control over their projects that he always demanded for himself." (See Sara Jean Green, Seattle Times, 10/30/2010,Accessed 09/11/2012.)


In 2012, the majority of Ralph Anderson's papers and drawings were held by his partner, Robert Koch. Ross Anderson, Ralph's son, also retained a few items in his architectural office, Anderson/Collier Architects.


High School/College

Graduate, Queen Anne High School, Queen Anne, Seattle, WA.

B.Arch., University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 1951. He graduated in the same architectural class as Robert Chervenak (1924-2010), another outstanding Regional Modernist in Seattle.



Born in Seattle, Anderson grew up in the Magnolia Neighborhood and attended high school in Queen Anne. In 1930, the Anderson Family lived in a rented residence at 2488 Crestmont Place in Seattle. The Andersons paid $25 in rent.(See, Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Seattle, King, Washington; Page: 31B; Enumeration District: 0401; FHL microfilm: 2342227, accessed 07/28/2020.).

Ten years later, the Andersons lived at 3305 West Armour Street in Magnolia. They owned this house, that had a value of $3,000 in 1940. At this time, two others lived in the household, Ralph's maternal grandmother, Elizabeth "Lillian" Richardson (born c. 1873 in Northern Ireland), and a maternal uncle, William Richardson (born c. 1914 in Northern Ireland). (See, Source Citation Year: 1940; Census Place: Seattle, King, Washington; Roll: T627_4377; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 40-101A, accessed 11/27/2017.) On 12/22/1942, Ralph Anderson continued to live with his parents at 3305 West Armour Street, according to his World War II draft registration card. (See, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Washington, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 5, accessed 07/28/2020.)

During the Second World War, he spent some time in Boca Raton, FL with the US Army Air Corps, although, due to an illnes, he never saw action abroad. He returned to Seattle, and matriculated at the University of Washington, where he graduated in 1951. He spent the rest of his life practicing in Seattle.

As a student in 1948, Ralph Anderson again resided at 3305 West Armour Street in Seattle. (See Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1948, p. 51.)

During his later years, Anderson lived at 17829 93rd Pl NE, Bothell, WA, 98011-3608 (c. 1981); 1519 3rd Avenue, Apartment #801, Seattle, WA, 98101-1623; 119 South Main Street, Seattle, WA, 98104-3445; and 3043 Alki Ave SW, Apartment #1, Seattle, WA, 98116-2678 (from at least 1995-2002).

Anderson passed away at his residence in the Horizon House retirement community, 900 University Street, Seattle, a facility in which many architects have chosen to reside.


His father, also named Ralph D. Anderson, Sr., (born 06/05/1891 in Jamestown, ND-d. 11/05/1958 in WA), was raised in Stutsman County, ND, one of Peter and Rachel Anderson's seven children. Peter (born c. 01/1854) had been born in Sweden, Rachel in MN (born c. 06/1858), but of Swedish stock. Ralph's father lived in Eldridge, ND, in 1910, and Patterson, CA, 1918. In Patterson, he worked as a foreman for the Patterson Water Company. (See, Source Citation Registration State: California; Registration County: Stanislaus; Roll: 1544412, accessed 11/27/2017.) By 1930, Ralph had moved to Seattle, where he worked as a fireman for the City of Seattle.

The younger Ralph's mother, Susan E. Richardson, who went by the name "Susie," was born in Northern Ireland. c. 1901. (The 1930 US Census erroneously indicated that she had been born in Iowa, but the 1940 document correctly listed her place of birth as Northern Ireland.) Susan appeared in two Irish Censuses. She lived with her parents William and Elizabeth Richardson in Dublin, Ireland, according to the Census of 03/31/1901. On 04/02/1911, she was listed in the Irish Census as living with her mother on her maternal grandfather's farm in Drumcar, County Louth, Ireland, and was a member of the Church of Ireland, an autonomous branch of the Anglican faith. Her father was not listed as residing with the family. (See, Source Citation: Class: RG14. Source Information: Web: Ireland, Census, 1911 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013, accessed 07/29/2020.)

Ralph and Susie married on 08/09/1922 in Tacoma, WA. (See, Source Citation Washington State Archives; Olympia, Washington; Collection Title: Washington Marriage Records, 1854-2013; Reference Number: prcmc-v15a-0625-DA1, accessed 11/27/2017.) Neither Susie nor Ralph had more than an eighth grade education.

In 1930, Ralph had two brothers, Robert N. (b. 12/04/1923 in Seattle, WA-d. 11/05/1981 in Tacoma, WA)), and John (born c. 05/1928 in Seattle, WA). (See, Source Citation Year: 1930; Census Place: Seattle, King, Washington; Roll: 2493; Page: 31B; Enumeration District: 0401; FHL microfilm: 2342227, accessed 11/27/2017.)


Ralph married Shirley Anderson on 05/24/1957. She worked as a pediatrician, who did her residency at Seattle Children's Hospital.


Ralph and Shirley Anderson had two sons; Ross and Kel. Ross became an architect in Seattle, WA, with the firm of Anderson Collier Architects. Kel lived in Bali at the time of his father's death.

Biographical Notes

His obituary on stated: "A devoted world traveler, Ralph's journeys - often with close friends - encompassed every continent with the exception of Antarctica. He was also an avid art collector of primitive, oriental and modern art." (See, "Ralph D. Anderson," published 10/31/2010, accessed 09/14/2018.)

At age 18, Anderson stood 6-feet, 1-inch tall, weighed 165 pounds, and had a light Caucasian complexion, as per his World War II draft registration card. (See, The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Washington, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 5, accessed 07/28/2020.)

Anderson died of kidney cancer at age 86, a disease that had afflicted him 30 years previously.

PCAD id: 2344

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