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Paul Thiry in 1958

Paul Thiry (1904–1993) was an American architect most active in Washington state, known as the father of architectural modernism in the Pacific Northwest. Thiry designed "some of the best period buildings around the state of Washington during the 1950, 60s and 70s." [1]



Thiry was born in Nome, Alaska, of French parents. He was a 1928 graduate of the architecture school at the University of Washington and studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in France[1] traveled in Europe and met Le Corbusier, before returning to Seattle in 1935.[2]

He designed his own house upon his return [2] but had few commissions in the 1930s. Those he built "showed a clear understanding of the European International Style in his use of spare, geometric forms, clean lines, and new building technologies."[3]

Aerial view of the KeyArena, built as the Washington State Pavilion

Thiry came to national attention in 1937 with a cement-based stuccoed residence for a manager at Portland Cement, Frank J. Barrett. The innovative house was published in The Modern House in America in 1940: the garage and house formed two rectangles, with a "smooth, undecorated exterior", its doors and windows flush with the surface. Steel window frames were painted blue-green, and glass-brick was used around the entry and along the walls of the partly sunken living room.[4]

Thiry served as supervising architect for the Seattle World's Fair,[4] responsible for the overall plan and coordinating the work of contributors like John Graham Jr. (for the Space Needle), Minoru Yamasaki, and the landscape architect Lawrence Halprin. Thiry's own designs for the fair included the Washington State Pavilion, now the KeyArena.

Thiry has been compared to other modernists in the Northwest such as Pietro Belluschi (1899–1994) and John Yeon (1910–1994).[3] Thiry is quoted as having said that "Buildings should be good neighbors."[5] He is credited with being "instrumental" to introducing International Style architecture in Seattle.[2]

Lewis and Clark CollegeEdit

The Agnes Flanagan Chapel on the Lewis and Clark College campus, the site of various religious services and weddings

Thiry designed the Agnes Flanagan Chapel, the Aubrey Watzek Library, and the Biology-Psychology Building[6] at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

The Flanagan chapel is "a creatively designed 16-sided structure" with an 85-rank Casavant Frères organ and seating for 600 people. According to the Lewis and Clark website the building "serves as a meeting place for lectures, musical performances, and religious services. The entry is a bridge flanked by Northwest Coast Indian-style statues depicting the four evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) created by the native artist Chief Lelooska.[7]




  1. ^ a b NORTH SLOPE HISTORIC DISTRICT; PIERCE COUNTY, WASHINGTON United States Department of the Interior National Park Service NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES. OMB No. 1024-0018 Section 8, 11 pages
  2. ^ a b c Caroline T. Swope Classic houses of Seattle: high style to vernacular, 1870-1950
  3. ^ a b Jan Goggans, Aaron DiFranco [1] page 12 The Pacific region
  4. ^ a b c Walt Crowley, Paul Dorpat National Trust Guide, Seattle: America's guide for architecture and history travelers Preservation Press Series, John Wiley and Sons, 1998 ISBN 0-471-18044-0, ISBN 978-0-471-18044-9
  5. ^ The Theory of Architecture: Concepts Themes & Practices By Paul-Alan Johnson page 226
  6. ^
  7. ^ Virtual tour Lewis and Clark College website
  8. ^ Museum of History and Industry (Seattle, Washington) photograph University of Oregon Libraries
  9. ^ Seattle History Archived 2006-09-09 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "The Nalley's Fine Food pavilion was a plastic form shell pneumatically applied on a frame of reinforcing rods and metal lathe. The exterior of the pavilion was constructed without a straight line or sharp angle. The unique oval contained a theater which showed movies of the great Pacific Northwest. In the lobby of the building were displays of the food products from Nalley's Tacoma-based company. Image courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections Division." Vintage Seattle
  11. ^ Watzek Library photograph Photo ID mdr07676 University of Oregon Libraries
  12. ^ Flanagan, Agnes, Chapel (Portland, Oregon) photograph Flanagan, Agnes, Chapel (Portland, Oregon) University of Oregon Libraries
  13. ^ Mark Allen Torgerson An architecture of immanence: architecture for worship and ministry today Calvin Institute of Christian Worship liturgical studies series Edition illustrated Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007 ISBN 0-8028-3209-1, ISBN 978-0-8028-3209-2, 313 pages, page 112

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