For understanding Seattle, “Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects” (1994), is invaluable.
Among other virtues, “Shaping Seattle” reminds us of the architecturally significant buildings forward-looking Seattle has knocked down over the years — much to the chagrin of Seattle’s more preservationist-minded, New England transplants.
Architect, architectural historian and University of Washington professor Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, as editor, pulled the book together. If many of Seattle’s beautiful buildings have vanished, at least we have their pictures and their architects’ profiles in one place.
Ochsner, born in 1950, received his architectural education at Rice University. He has taught at the University of Washington since 1988 and was chair of the Department of Architecture from 1996 to 2002.
Ochsner has also been an important voice on the local, historic-preservation front, which includes preparing nominations to be submitted to the Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board.
The general public got a glimpse of Ochsner’s presence in 2004, when, seemingly out of the blue, the J.C. Black house (1914) on upper Queen Anne fell to the wrecking ball over a holiday weekend. It was Ochsner’s informed voice in the press that reminded Seattle what it had lost when the Prairie School-style mansion, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright student Andrew Willatsen, bit the dust.
Ochsner’s “Lionel H. Pries, Architect, Artist, Educator: From Arts and Crafts to Modern Architecture” was a finalist for Washington State Book Award in History/Biography in 2008. That book told the story of the founder of the UW’s College of Architecture and Urban Planning, who, just four years short of retirement, lost his job in 1958. (“Illness” was the official explanation; friends suspected the dismissal was due to his sexual orientation.)
The Tacoma Weekly described the generously illustrated volume as “beautifully written and reads almost like a mystery novel.” Ochsner’s book went a long way — for the historical record — to right a wrong.
The North Seattle resident has a new book, “Furniture Studio: Materials, Craft and Architecture,” scheduled to be published by the University of Washington Press later this year.