This floating glass box is the last new claass HAUS of 2017. Find out more after the break.
Nestled within a hilly site on the eastern portion of the Seattle campus, the University of Washington’s Faculty Club has historically served as a place of refuge and repose for the institution's faculty members. Designed by celebrated local architects, Victor Steinbrueck and Paul Hayden Kirk, the Faculty Club remains a unique example of Pacific Northwest modernism, its visual transparency and powerful simplicity signaling the embrace of a more regionalized modern expression. In combining the structural references of the International Style with a sensitivity to local building traditions and the immediate environment, Steinbrueck and Kirk created a distinctive modern masterpiece representative of an emerging regional aesthetic.
Completed in 1960, the brick, stucco, glass, and steel building is suspended above the green hillside like a hovering box, its clean lines, white cubic volumes, exposed framing, and full height windows expressing the language of modernism. Taking advantage of the wooded lot, the building’s design engages the sloping topography to frame dramatic views of the natural landscape. Grounded to the site along its western edges, the cube cantilevers out onto slender steel pilotis, giving the structure a remarkable floating quality. The exposed structural steel system, best seen under the projecting volumes, expresses a geometric rigor and material honesty. By utilizing rectilinear planes, industrial materials, and a straightforward modular grid, Steinbrueck and Kirk designed an effortlessly modern structure that still seems daringly simple today.
The plan of the faculty club, almost a perfect square, is functionally divided into two rectangles (running north and south) with a two-story courtyard slicing through the distinct volumes. Providing light and social space, the transparent courtyard offers an opportunity for the visitor to both experience and visualize the building's design. Interior rooms are finished with a variety of indigenous wood detail, marrying the simple modernist forms with local building traditions and adding warmth to the industrial feel of the glass and steel structure. Through its siting, materiality, and unique indoor/outdoor spaces, the Faculty Club is both integrated with its surrounding environment and steeped in its local context.
A notable collaboration between two of the area’s most successful architects (Steinbrueck served on UW’s faculty and played a leading role in Seattle’s preservation movement; Kirk was the region's most prominent and published practitioner of modernism), the Faculty Club honors modernist ideals in its use of exposed structural elements and cubic forms. But the design's respect for local traditions, evident in its integration with the natural landscape and use of warm wood finishes, creates a sense of place specific to the Pacific Northwest. An adaptation of the International Style, the Faculty Club displays Steinbrueck and Kirk's confident grasp of contemporary architectural concepts to create their own regional aesthetic.
Over the last five decades, the university has maintained the historic integrity of the Faculty Club (now called the University of Washington Club) with only a few exceptions (including changes to the original landscape design by noted firm Eckbo, Dean & Williams), and in 2016, the National Park Service listed the site on the National Register of Historic Places.
Well, that about does it for this week, and since we seem to be in the final stretch of the holiday season, this will probably be the last claass HAUS post until the new year. But I do want to take a moment to thank everyone for all of the support and well wishes over the last several months. It has meant so much to connect with so many architecture lovers from all over the world. So until 2018- Happy Holidays!
Image at top:
By Jon Roanhaus (Own work)[CC BY-SA 3.0
(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
This architectural historian cannot stop thinking about buildings, food, and that vintage rug she found online.