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UW’s Ethnic Cultural Center soon after its 2013 remodel.
Emile Pitre, courtesy of University of Washington

11 Seattle works designed by black architects

From ECC to NAAM

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UW’s Ethnic Cultural Center soon after its 2013 remodel.
| Emile Pitre, courtesy of University of Washington

On the surface, Seattle’s architectural heritage can seem very, very white. But black architects have been contributing to Seattle’s urban fabric for decades.

A bit of history: Benjamin McAdoo founded Seattle’s first black-owned architecture firm in the middle of the last century, and gained renown for everything from churches to educational facilities to private homes. Leon Bridges founded the second in the early 1960s before moving to Baltimore and becoming the first registered black architect in Maryland.

Of course, many would follow. Mel Streeter had an extremely prestigious career dating back to the 1950s which included having a hand in both Quest and Safeco Field as well as Seatac Airport. Roderick Butler touched homes all across the region with N3 Architects. Many practicing Seattle architects are shaping our area—and the world, depending on the specialty—right this second, including Donald King (whose work is seen throughout the city, thanks to work on Seattle Housing Authority high-rises), Weber Thompson’s Susan Frieson, and DLR Group’s Rico Quirindongo.

Miss any of your favorites? Send us a tip; we’ll include it on our next update.

Special thanks to AIA Seattle’s diversity roundtable for guidance.

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1. Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center

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3931 Brooklyn Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 543-4635
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Originally designed by Benjamin McAdoo in the early 1970s, the building was rebuilt from the ground up in 2013 by two architects of color, including Mel Streeter protegee Sam Cameron, integrating some elements from McAdoo’s original design.

2. Meredith Mathews East Madison YMCA

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1700 23rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 322-6969
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This Central Area facility was the first area building designed by Leon Bridges.

3. Central Area Community Health Center

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2101 E Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98122

This facility, which houses the Odessa Brown Clinic and Carolyn Downs Clinic, was designed by Donald King. The exterior and lobby, according to King, “reflect the exuberant culture of its users through colors and patterns of celebration.”

4. Seattle Vocational Institute

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2120 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 934-4950
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Seattle Colleges’ main trade school facility, originally built in 1974, got a Donald King-led renovation in 1994.

5. King Street Station Sound Transit platforms

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303 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104

While the original structure was built in 1906, it was Donald King and DKA Architects (in conjunction with Otak) who created the side platforms for Sound Transit Sounder service—what the Daily Journal of Commerce called “glass and steel wafers.”

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6. Asian Counseling & Referral Service

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919 S King St
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 292-5714
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Donald King was principal-in-charge of design for this LEED-certified community staple, which was, according to King, “inspired by a sense of Asian-Pacific Island culture in a contemporary northwest architecture.”

7. Northwest African American Museum

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2300 S Massachusetts St
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 518-6000
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The original Colman School building went up in the early 1900s, its present use as the Northwest African American Museum has been shaped by Seattle’s black community, from the eight-year community occupation that eventually led to the museum’s founding to the adaptive reuse architecture that’s in play today. Donald King and Rico Quirindongo designed the affordable housing above—Urban League Village—and the renovation of the museum itself.

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8. John Muir Elementary School

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3301 S Horton St
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 252-7400
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After buildings built in 1924 and 1910 were demolished, a 1971 addition designed by Mel Streeter became the focal building of this elementary school.

9. Van Asselt Elementary School

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8311 Beacon Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 252-7500
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Mel Streeter designed this distinctive school building for the African American Academy in 2000; the program was shuttered by the district nine years later. It eventually became Van Asselt Elementary School.

Via Seattle Public Schools

10. Sea Mar Community Care Center

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1040 S Henderson St
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 788-3200
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Donald King designed this South Park skilled nursing facility, built in 1994—both the structure itself and its interior design, including an adjacent courtyard.

11. Kenneth Ota residence

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10240 61st Ave S
Seattle, WA 98178

This midcentury modern home by Benjamin McAdoo is a Seattle historical site—not just for the McAdoo name and its exemplary example of the era’s design, but for the cultural heritage it represents.

“The commissioning of this house by the Otas is... consistent with the historic return of Japanese Americans to South Seattle after World War II, as well as the influx of residents who were employed by Boeing around this time period,” reads its designation. “The house’s association with the Otas and [McAdoo] also reflects Seattle’s gradual move towards racial integration and the present-day ethnic diversity in Rainier Valley.”

Via Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

1. Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center

3931 Brooklyn Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Originally designed by Benjamin McAdoo in the early 1970s, the building was rebuilt from the ground up in 2013 by two architects of color, including Mel Streeter protegee Sam Cameron, integrating some elements from McAdoo’s original design.

3931 Brooklyn Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98105

2. Meredith Mathews East Madison YMCA

1700 23rd Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

This Central Area facility was the first area building designed by Leon Bridges.

1700 23rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

3. Central Area Community Health Center

2101 E Yesler Way, Seattle, WA 98122

This facility, which houses the Odessa Brown Clinic and Carolyn Downs Clinic, was designed by Donald King. The exterior and lobby, according to King, “reflect the exuberant culture of its users through colors and patterns of celebration.”

2101 E Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98122

4. Seattle Vocational Institute

2120 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98144

Seattle Colleges’ main trade school facility, originally built in 1974, got a Donald King-led renovation in 1994.

2120 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144

5. King Street Station Sound Transit platforms

303 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104

While the original structure was built in 1906, it was Donald King and DKA Architects (in conjunction with Otak) who created the side platforms for Sound Transit Sounder service—what the Daily Journal of Commerce called “glass and steel wafers.”

303 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104

6. Asian Counseling & Referral Service

919 S King St, Seattle, WA 98104

Donald King was principal-in-charge of design for this LEED-certified community staple, which was, according to King, “inspired by a sense of Asian-Pacific Island culture in a contemporary northwest architecture.”

919 S King St
Seattle, WA 98104

7. Northwest African American Museum

2300 S Massachusetts St, Seattle, WA 98144

The original Colman School building went up in the early 1900s, its present use as the Northwest African American Museum has been shaped by Seattle’s black community, from the eight-year community occupation that eventually led to the museum’s founding to the adaptive reuse architecture that’s in play today. Donald King and Rico Quirindongo designed the affordable housing above—Urban League Village—and the renovation of the museum itself.

2300 S Massachusetts St
Seattle, WA 98144

8. John Muir Elementary School

3301 S Horton St, Seattle, WA 98144

After buildings built in 1924 and 1910 were demolished, a 1971 addition designed by Mel Streeter became the focal building of this elementary school.

3301 S Horton St
Seattle, WA 98144

9. Van Asselt Elementary School

8311 Beacon Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118
Via Seattle Public Schools

Mel Streeter designed this distinctive school building for the African American Academy in 2000; the program was shuttered by the district nine years later. It eventually became Van Asselt Elementary School.

8311 Beacon Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118

10. Sea Mar Community Care Center

1040 S Henderson St, Seattle, WA 98108

Donald King designed this South Park skilled nursing facility, built in 1994—both the structure itself and its interior design, including an adjacent courtyard.

1040 S Henderson St
Seattle, WA 98108

11. Kenneth Ota residence

10240 61st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98178
Via Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

This midcentury modern home by Benjamin McAdoo is a Seattle historical site—not just for the McAdoo name and its exemplary example of the era’s design, but for the cultural heritage it represents.

“The commissioning of this house by the Otas is... consistent with the historic return of Japanese Americans to South Seattle after World War II, as well as the influx of residents who were employed by Boeing around this time period,” reads its designation. “The house’s association with the Otas and [McAdoo] also reflects Seattle’s gradual move towards racial integration and the present-day ethnic diversity in Rainier Valley.”

10240 61st Ave S
Seattle, WA 98178