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Architect and Gardner

Daniel M. StreissguthDaniel M. Streissguth, Washington Alpha, 1948, is Professor Emeritus, Department of Architecture, University of Washington.  He grew up in Monroe, Washington, entered the UW School of Architecture in 1941, and after 4 years in the Army during WWII, completed his Bachelor of Architecture Degree in 1949.  His master’s degree is from MIT, where he studied under Lawrence Anderson, William Wurster, and Alvar Aalto.  He taught at Washington University, St. Louis, in 1953 and 1954. He came to the U of W in 1955, serving until his retirement in 1992, twice in 4-year periods as Department of Architecture Chairman.

He was one of a group of collaborating architects, engineers, and artists invited in the 1960’s to design the UW Nuclear Reactor Building (properly called the Nuclear Reactor Wing of, or Annex to, More Hall), housing the University’s new teaching reactor, and symbolizing and proclaiming the promise of the nuclear age.

The little structure has been much in the public eye recently.  Now disused and vacant, it has been superseded by newer facilities.  Architectural conservationists have probably been successful in saving the building, but a future for it is unclear.  Its design, so specific to its use, makes an adaptive re-use difficult.  Should it remain as an example of architectural ideals of the 1960’s and as a monument to the early nuclear era?  Should it be demolished to provide the site for some much-needed newer building? 

Also during Daniel’s time at the UW, he was one of a group of collaborating architects, including Gene Zema, invited to design Gould Hall. Completed in 1970, it still houses a principal part of the newly renamed College of Built Environment (formerly the College of Architecture and Urban Planning).

Daniel’s wife, Ann, is Professor Emerita, Department of Behavioral Sciences, UW School of Medicine.  She has spent much of her academic life studying the effects of alcohol and other drugs on the fetus, the newborn, and the growing individual, including a longitudinal prospective study on 500 infants to age 30.  She was one of the UW group who first identified what is now known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in 1973, and has developed public health measures for the prevention of the syndrome, and for continuing aid for affected children and families.

Daniel, Ann, and their son Benjamin have spent decades designing a hillside garden adjacent to their northwest Capitol Hill home in Seattle.  They have recently completed a book In Love with a Hillside Garden (UW Press in association with the Arboretum Foundation, 2009).  It relates the family’s development of the garden, and tells of the gift of the garden to the City of Seattle in 1996, linked with an agreement that the family would continue providing the garden’s care in the present era, and its future care through an endowment within the Seattle Parks Foundation.


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