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In Memory of L. Jane Hastings

In The Woman in the Room: A Memoir, published in November 2023, trailblazing University of Washington graduate and Seattle architect L. Jane Hastings, FAIA (1928-2024; U.W. B.Arch. 1952) shared her extraordinary life story. In recognition of Women’s History Month, and to celebrate Jane’s nearly seven-decade career, many achievements, and new publication, the CBE scheduled a “Conversation with Jane Hastings,” hosted by Dean Cheng, for Wednesday, March 27, 2024. Sadly, it was not to be; Jane became ill and passed away on the evening of March 25. We are deeply saddened by her death, but we still applaud what can only be called “a life well lived.”

Lois Jane Hastings was born in Seattle on March 3, 1928. She grew up in West Seattle, and at age 9, announced her intention to become an architect; her parents encouraged her. Many others tried to dissuade her, but she persevered. She began studying architecture at UW in 1946 while working part-time as a drafter at Boeing to pay her way. She graduated with honors in 1952, receiving the Alpha Rho Chi medal for “leadership and service.” She passed the architectural registration exam in 1953, becoming only the eighth woman registered as an architect in Washington State.

Jane had long wished to go to Europe to see the places she had learned about in her classes. In May 1954, having secured a position as a recreation director working in service clubs enlisted men supported by the American military, she left on a two-year adventure. Everywhere she went, Jane made friends—a pattern that continued throughout her life.

From 1956 to 1959, Jane worked with a series of Seattle architects and then began designing buildings under her own name. In 1961 she opened her own office in the University District, L. Jane Hastings, Architect, doing primarily residential design including remodelings and additions, single-family homes, and multi-family apartments. She developed her own personal design idiom while working within the broad tendency now called Northwest regional modernism. Although her later practice would take on many larger projects, Jane designed residences throughout her long career. In her memoir she wrote about the insights this gave her: “I have often said, and only partly in jest, that architects probably know more about their clients than psychiatrists do about their patients; psychiatrists must depend upon what their clients tell them—but we get to look in their closets. We witness the best family relationships, as well as troubled ones that require creative building solutions.”

Jane restructured her practice as the Hastings Group in 1974. This office eventually employed as many as eight architects. In addition to residences, the firm took on institutional and commercial buildings and notable transportation projects including alterations at SeaTac Airport, work on I-90, and the Flaming Geyser Bridge. The firm’s projects also included the renovation of the University of Washington’s Cunningham Hall to serve as the campus’s women’s center.

Jane “gave back” to the profession throughout her life. Beginning in 1957, she was deeply involved in the Seattle Times/AIA Home of the Month program, and during Century 21, the Seattle World’s Fair, she staffed and helped manage the AIA Pavilion. From 1967 to 1970 she served on the AIA Board of Directors; five years later she served as AIA Seattle President, the first woman to hold this position. She went on to serve on the national AIA Board of Directors (1982-1984, 1986). She was also involved in the International Union of Women Architects (UIFA) beginning in 1969; she eventually served as UIFA vice-president and as UIFA Secretary General.

Jane was also interested in education. From 1969 to 1980 she directed and taught in the Architectural Drafting Program at Seattle Central Community College. She occasionally led design studios at the UW College of Architecture and Urban Planning (now College of Built Environments).

Jane’s deep commitment to her hometown was also reflected in her service on the City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board (1980-83) and on the Design and Construction Review Board for the Seattle Public School System.

Jane practiced with the Hastings Group until her retirement in 2002. During her long career she received numerous honors and awards. Jane’s residential projects were published in the Seattle newspapers and in journals such as House Beautiful, House and Garden, House and Home, Sunset Magazine, The AIA Journal and others. Multiple projects received “House of the Month” and other awards. Jane was elected a Fellow of the AIA in 1980, and Chancellor of the AIA College of Fellows in 1992 (the first woman to hold that position). She received the AIA Seattle Chapter Medal in 1995. In 2002 she was the first recipient of the AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Medal of Honor in recognition of her “accomplishments over more than four decades of AIA activism.”

In 1969, Jane married Norman J. Johnston FAIA (1918-2015), architect, author and UW Professor in the Departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Design & Planning. Together Norm and Jane were deeply supportive of the College and the University. They created two endowed funds in the CBE: the Johnston/Hastings Publications Support Endowed Fund, to provide financial support for publication by CBE faculty and students; and the Johnston/Hastings Endowment for Faculty Research Travel, to help support research travel for faculty members in the Department of Architecture. The Norman J. Johnston and L. Jane Hastings portion of the Gould Gallery, the CBE exhibition space, is named in their honor.

In her long career as an architect, Jane Hastings was involved in the design of more than 500 projects. Equally important were her many contributions to the architectural profession, to education, and to the city and region. She is loved and remembered by an extraordinary number of friends and colleagues. Even those who never met her may gain a sense of who she was from reading her memoir, The Woman in the Room, her final gift to all of us.


Jeffrey Karl Ochsner

Note: This text draws extensively on the essay “L. Jane Hastings,” by Marga Rose Hancock and Katheryn Hills Krafft in Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects Second Edition (2014).