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Male, born 1927-09-28, died 2017-08-16

Associated with the firms network

Christiansen, John V., Consulting Engineer; Skilling and Helle, Structural Engineers; Skilling, Helle, Christiansen, and Robertson, Incorporated, Engineers; Skilling, Worthington, Helle and Christiansen, Incorporated, Engineers; Witt, W.H., Company; Worthington and Skilling, Engineers

Professional History


Architectural engineer, Chicago, IL, 1950-1952.

Engineer, W.H. Witt Company, Engineers, Seattle, WA, c. 1952-1962. During his years with W.H. Witt Company and its successor firms, Christiansen began work as a project engineer and steadily moved his way up to Senior Partner and then President. He retired from Skilling, Helle, Christiansen, and Robertson, Incorporated, Engineers, in 1983.

Engineer/Partner, Skilling and Helle, Engineers, Seattle, WA, 1962-c. 1966.

Partner, Skilling, Worthington, Helle and Christiansen, Structural Engineers, Seattle, WA, c. 1966-1968.

Partner, Skilling, Helle, Christiansen, Robertson, Engineers, Seattle, WA, 1968-1983.

Principal, John Christiansen, Consulting Engineer, Bainbridge Island, WA, 1988-2002.

Christiansen had training as both an engineer and an architect, and possessed a deep interest in "exploratory" design. As noted in his obiturary published in the Engineer News-Record: "Jud Marquardt, a founding partner of Seattle-based LMN Architects, calls Christiansen, who had a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering, an architect’s engineer. 'He was exploratory, always seeking to enhance the form, constructibility and economy,' says Marquardt, who worked on the Kingdome when he was with NBBJ. 'If you knew Jack Christiansen was going to be your structural engineer, you would engage him in design strategy meetings at the outset,' he adds." (See Nadine M. Post, Engineering, "Jack Christiansen, Leader in Thin Concrete Shells, Dead at 89," published 08/30/2017, accessed 10/24/2017.) Christiansen viewed his engineering projects as really large sculptures; he was quoted in the Bainbridge Island Review's obituary: "“Being an engineer was a lot of fun because of the finished product. A building is a great big thing, and you can see it, and touch it. It’s like you are creating sculpture on a grand scale.'" (See Bainbridge Island Review, "John Valdemar 'Jack' Christiansen," published 09/01/2017, accessed 10/24/2017.)


Affiliate Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, 1984-1987.

Professional Activities

Christiansen was a Licensed Structural Engineer in WA, CA, AK and HI.

Professional Awards

Elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), Civil Engineering Section, 1985.

Fellow, American Concrete Institute (ACI).

Fellow, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Honorary Member; Structural Engineers Association of Washington, Hall of Fame, 2012.

Named WSPE Professional Engineer of the Year by the Puget Sound Engineering Council, 2012, for his pioneering work with thin-shell concrete structures. Christiansen became a prominent exponent of thin-shell concrete structures during the 1950s-1970s; he spread and refined the ideas of such first-generation engineering innovators as Anton Tedesko, Pierluigi Nervi and Felix Candela. In the US, he became an authority on this type of construction, not just in the Pacific Northwest, but nationally. His buildings, while still economical and efficient, also possessed an artistry that was not often seen in utilitarian structures. His rooflines, composed of complex curving forms, have a rare sculptural elegance.

Recipient, Eduardo Torroja Medal, International Association of Shell and Spatial Structures, Madrid, Spain, 2016.



B.S. Architectural Engineering, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL, 1949.

M.S., Structural Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 1950.



Born in Chicago, IL, he lived there and in Oak Park, IL, during his youth. His family moved to the comfortable suburb of Oak Park when he was 10. He went to college at the University of IL, Champaign-Urbana, IL, and at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. He married in 1950 and worked for about two years in Chicago, IL, before deciding to relocate to Seattle in 1952.

He, his wife and eldest daughter found property in Bainbridge Island, WA, where they first rented a cottage on Green Spot Place NE on the east central portion of the island. They then purchased a garage at Fletcher Bay on the west central part of the island and remodeled it to become their permanent residence. Aside from vacations and business trips, Jack Christiansen lived on Bainbridge for the remainder of his life.


His father was Christian Valdemar Christiansen and his mother, Louise Linderoth Christiansen. Christian worked for the Bowman Dairy Company.


He met art student Susan Hasselquist (d. 2010) at the University of Illinois. They married on 03/12/1950 in Moline, IL.


Jack and Sue had five children, three daughters and two sons. In 2017, they included: Janet Sue Christiansen Jorgenson, who resided in Fairbanks, AK; Nelda Christiansen Swiggett of Seattle; Karin Christiansen Kajita of Shoreline, WA; John Christiansen of Bainbridge Island, WA; Robert Christiansen of Bainbridge Island, WA.

Biographical Notes

Known as "Jack" Christiansen. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity at the University of Illinois. Christiansen's professional list of accomplishments was very long having worked as structural engineer on some of the best know buildings of his day, both locally and nationally. These would include: the United States Science Pavilion at the Seattle World's Fair (1962), Washington State Coliseum (1962), World Trade Center, New York, NY (1973), Rivergate Exhibition Facility, New Orleans (1973) Kingdome, Seattle (1976), Museum of Flight, Seattle (1987), and Washington State Convention and Trade Center, Seattle (1988).

An accomplished mountaineer, Christiansen climbed the 100 tallest peaks in the Olympic Mountain Range.

PCAD id: 3780

Boeing Company, Boeing Field Hangar, Seattle, WA1962SeattleWA
Christiansen, Jack and Susan Hasselquist, House, Bainbridge Island, WABainbridge IslandWA
Church of the Good Shepherd, Bellevue, WA1964BellevueWA
City of Seattle, Parks and Recreation Department, Green Lake Community Center, Green Lake, Seattle, WA1929SeattleWA
City of Seattle, Public Library (SPL), Branch #3, Magnolia, Seattle, WA1963-1964SeattleWA
Columbia Seafirst Center, Downtown, Seattle, WA1985SeattleWA
King County, Department of Stadium Administration, Domed Stadium, Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA 1972-1976SeattleWA
Marine Bancorporation, Rainier National Bank, Headquarters Building, Downtown, Seattle, WA1972-1977SeattleWA
Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA1975-1987SeattleWA
Port of Seattle, Boeing Field, King County Airport Hangar, Seattle, WASeattleWA
Rivergate Exhibit Facility, New Orleans, LA 1964-1968New OrleansLA
Seattle 1st National Bank, Incorporated, 5th Avenue Plaza Building, Downtown, Seattle, WA1979-1981SeattleWA
Seattle 1st National Bank, Incorporated, Headquarters Building #3, Downtown, Seattle, WA1966-1969SeattleWA
Seattle Public Schools, Central Supply Center, Cascade, Seattle, WA 1955-1956SeattleWA
Shannon and Wilson, Properties, Incorporated, Geotechnical Engineers, Office and Laboratory Building, Seattle, WA1960SeattleWA
Spokane World's Fair, Federal Building, Spokane, WA1973-1974SpokaneWA
United States Air Force, Larsen Air Force Base, B-52 Hangar, Moses Lake, WA1956Moses LakeWA
University of Washington, Seattle (UW), Condon, John T., Hall #2, Seattle, WA1974-1975SeattleWA
Washington State University (WSU), Fine Arts Center, Pullman, WA1973PullmanWA
Yakima Valley SunDome, Yakima, WA1989-1990YakimaWA