June 9, 2014

Shaping Seattle Architecture Second Edition

 Written by Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Jeffrey Ochsner


When Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects sold out about 2006, I wondered if the book would ever be available again.  Shaping had been created in the early 1990s as part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the AIA in Seattle and Washington State.  That book was a collaborative effort—although I served as organizer and editor, the five other members of the Editorial Board (Dennis Andersen, Duane Dietz, Kate Krafft, David Rash, Tom Veith) were all deeply involved in the creation of the book and a total of 25 writers contributed the essays and supporting information.  The book was published in 1994 by the University of Washington Press partnering with AIA Seattle and the Seattle Architectural Foundation.

When the first printing of Shaping sold out in 1998, the Press allowed the Editorial Board to submit corrections for the second printing.  When the second printing sold out in 2006, we produced a new set of corrections, but the Press was unable to accommodate them in a third printing.  Between 1993-94, when the original book was typeset, and 2005-6 book publishing processes had become completely digital.  Our proposed corrections would have had too many impacts on the old page layouts that were not in an easily alterable form.  As a result, the Press said that they could either reprint without corrections, or there would need to be an entirely new book.

After considerable discussion, the Editorial Board and I made a proposal to the Press for new version — a true Second Edition.  We began work on the new edition in 2007.

Shaping 2e incorporates many findings from the last twenty years of research on Seattle’s architecture.  However, because this is a Second Edition, not an entirely new book, we kept the structure of the original book.  Significantly revising a twenty-year-old book meant reconsidering almost everything and trying to take account of new research.  The Editorial Board and I contacted the individual essay writers and asked if they would do updates.  Some revised their essays significantly, others submitted minor changes, and a few allowed the Editorial Board do updates for them.  Illustrations sometimes also changed to reflect the results of new research.  And authors updated their bibliographic essays and revised the lists of addresses (adding new addresses if they included different buildings and deleting addresses for buildings that were destroyed since the early 1990s).  Shaping 2e also includes six entirely new essays (four on individuals—Edwin Ivey, Fred Bassetti, L. Jane Hastings, Richard Haag—and two on architects’ involvement in suburban housing as opposed to singular custom design).

Other parts of the book also changed.  The introductory essay comes twenty years further in time—to the 2000s.  The “Additional Significant Seattle Architects” appendix has been significantly expanded:  Where the 1994 edition listed about 85 additional architects, there are now about 250.  Architects who contributed to shaping the city’s built environment in the years from 1945 to about 1990 are much better represented.  Finally, the appendix “Researching Seattle’s Architectural History” has been updated and expanded and now offers an introduction to digitally accessible as well as traditional resources for research on Seattle architecture.

Shaping Seattle Architecture 2e remains a “historical” guide—this is not a guide to those practicing architecture in Seattle today.  In 1990-94, AIA Seattle set a policy that said that currently practicing architects could not be the subjects of essays (neither the AIA chapter nor the editors wanted to be in the position of telling currently practicing architects “you are significant, but you and you and you are not”).   However, AIA Seattle did ask that architects who had received the chapter medal be included in the “Additional Architects” appendix and the original book included AIA Seattle Medal winners through 1992.  Twenty years later there are roughly twenty more medal winners who are included in the “Additional Architects” appendix (the new “cut-off” was 2012).

The production process carried out by the University of Washington Press was essentially that of a new book—new copy-editing, new typesetting, new design, new page layouts. At 7 x 10 inches, the Second Edition is physically larger than the earlier book.  This size allows larger illustrations, but is another reason a completely new design was required.  In turn the additional information and new design required a completely new index.

Although my name appears on the cover as editor, Shaping 2e was truly a shared project.  Without the writers, and without the many contributions of the Editorial Board, as well as the extraordinary support received from the Press (editing, design, production, etc.), and the financial contributions from those who provided necessary funding to make publication possible, Shaping 2e would never have happened.

Shaping 2e will appear in bookstores in late June or early July.