Paul Hayden Kirk was one of the most well-known Pacific Northwest architects of his time. When he passed away at the age of 80 in May of 1995, his obituary credited him with shaping the Northwest style — “boxy shapes, unadorned designs, big windows to capture nature views and practical interiors,” wrote The Seattle Times.
Kirk moved to Seattle from Salt Lake City, Utah when he was eight years old. He was stricken with polio as a child, affecting the use of his right arm and forcing him to use crutches throughout his life. After graduating from Roosevelt High School, he studied architecture at University of Washington. In 1939, just two years after graduating, he opened his own architecture firm in Seattle. That same year he married Helen Richardson. His brother served as best man at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. Classic family man with a gift for architecture. Just look at the guy:
Paul Kirk with architectural rendering, Seattle, 1968. Photo: MOHAI
According to Shaping Seattle Architecture, Kirk felt that the houses he built and the land they were built on were inextricably tied together. Rather than flattening the rolling hills of the Northwest to accommodate his structures, Kirk sought to make the least impact possible on the building site by making use of its natural landscape.
Paul Hayden Kirk – Crow House, Factoria 1951. Photo: Dearborn-Massar via University of Washington
Kirk drew inspiration from the Salish Native American longhouses around the Puget Sound and elements of Japanese architecture. His work included residences, churches, libraries and medical clinics. Kirk won several awards from the American Institute of Architects, and served as the Seattle chapter’s president. Here’s a look at some of his most interesting home designs in the Greater Seattle Area.
Paul Hayden Kirk Residence III interior. 1951. Photo: Dearborn-Massar via University of Washington
Paul Hayden Kirk Residence III exterior. 1951. Photo: Dearborn-Massar via University of Washington
Paul Hayden Kirk -Electri-Living House. 1956. Photo: Dearborn-Massar via University of Washington
Paul Hayden Kirk Residence IV. 1958. Photo: Dearborn-Massar via University of Washington
Paul Hayden Kirk – Buckley Residence. 1962. Photo: Dearborn-Massar via University of Washington
Kirk’s Dowell house in Seward Park was recently purchased for $1.44 million by Walla Walla winemaker Charles Smith, reports The Seattle Times. Smith has sure come a long way since living out of his car in the 1980s. He brought on architect Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig to “refresh” the house with new touches. A look at the original:
Dowell Residence Interior. 1956. Photo: Dearborn-Massar via University of Washington
You can see photos of the Kundig updates here and learn more here. As the housing market continues to flourish in the Pacific Northwest, hopefully Kirk’s “one-with-nature” architectural legacy will as well.