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Summary for 1715 NE COLUMBIA DR NE / Parcel ID / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Fisheries Building Common Name: Portage Bay Building
Style: Modern Neighborhood: University
Built By: Year Built: 1950
The Fisheries building (Young & Richardson, 1949-1950) is associated with the early development of the School of Fisheries (now the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences) as it transitioned from its industry-focused origins in support of resource harvesting to a multidisciplinary science-based curriculum. The building has lost some of its design integrity due to window alterations.  

The 1968 addition, built for the grant-funded Fisheries Research Institute, is a five-story brick-clad structure that is distinctly different from the original building. It is one the few institutional works of well-known Seattle architect Ralph Anderson. The design, developed by Anderson along with architects T. William Booth and Jerry Stickney, is highly expressive of its construction and materials, and appears to synthesize Modern and traditional architectural design. Its use of brick is particularly notable, with extensive corbelling to support angled window bays. 

Fisheries used this complex for teaching, research and administration from 1950 until 1999. It is now called the Portage Bay Building and is occupied by the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS), the UW Autism Center, UW Radiology, and the Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound.

Historical Context: The College of Fisheries

The University of Washington established the College of Fisheries in April 1919, at the suggestion of the Commissioner of the U. S. Bureau of Fisheries. Because of UW's proximity to the northwest fishing industry, courses focused on commercial needs such as the fundamentals of canning and cannery management, in addition to fisheries and ichthyology courses.

grew to more than 100 students by 1927 and the school’s miscellaneous, older wood-frame structures were inadequate. A new building was proposed, consolidating labs, classrooms, offices, storerooms and workshops. Progress was delayed by the Depression and the actions of University President Dr. Matthew Lyle Spencer. He sought to raise academic standards with a focus on scholarship rather than practical studies, so he began dismantling the College of Fisheries by dismissing all but one of its faculty members. Student and faculty protests led to intervention by the governor, ultimately establishing the Department of Fisheries within the College of Science. In 1935, the college was reorganized as the School of Fisheries, but World War II brought a dramatic decline in enrollment. Following the war, the G.I. Bill led to an equally dramatic enrollment increase, with more than 150 students. Planning and construction for the new building resumed, and the Fisheries Building finally opened in 1950.

The Fisheries Research Institute (FRI) was founded in 1947, with support from the Alaskan fish packing industry. It focused on database studies of salmon escapement and population returns and field studies of the life history of salmon. In 1955, federal research funding replaced industry support. The FRI later became an "umbrella organization," under which all contractual research in the School of Fisheries was conducted. An addition was constructed in 1968 to serve the needs of the Institute, which closed in 2000. 

By the late 1990s’s the school had outgrown this facility and, in 1999, moved to a new Fishery Sciences building several blocks to the northwest. Its programs provide for undergraduate and graduate teaching and research in basic and applied aquatic sciences, with an emphasis on fisheries management, resource conservation, and partnerships with other academic programs, as well as public and private organizations and environmental and regulatory agencies.

The Architects

The 1950 building was designed by the local architectural firm of Young & Richardson, a partnership of Arrigo M. Young and Steven H. Richardson. Young (1888-1954) was born in London in 1884 and received his Bachelors of Science degree in engineering from the University of Michigan. He worked for Midwest construction firms before coming to Seattle in 1910 to work for the Moran Steel Company. He opened his own engineering office by 1913 and, in 1920, joined architects James H. Schack and David J. Myers in one of the most successful firms in the region. A major project was the Civic Center complex  (1925-28), now part of Seattle Center. Young continued with the firm until Schack's death in 1933 and worked as a sole practitioner until 1941, when he formed a partnership with Steven Richardson.  

Steven H. Richardson (1910-1984) graduated with a Masters in Architecture from MIT in 1935. He worked in Floyd Naramore's Seattle office until joining Young in 1941. Their partnership (1941-51) completed two award-winning buildings, the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department Administration Building (1948-49) and Gaffney's Lake Wilderness Lodge (1949-50). 

Ralph D. Anderson (1924–2010), the architect for the 1968 addition, graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1951 and established his own practice in 1955, working primarily on residential projects and medical clinics. In 1965, he established a new firm, Ralph D. Anderson and Partners, which operated until ca. 1990.  Anderson was particularly well known for his preservation work in Pioneer Square in the 1960s-1970s. He died in Seattle at the age of 86.


BOLA Architecture & Planning. “University of Washington Historic Resources Addendum:  Portage Bay/Fisheries Building Auditorium Renovation,” March 18, 2015.

DocomomoWeWa, Architect Biographies. “Anderson, Ralph D;” “Carleton, William H.” and “Detlie, John Stewart,” detail.php? id=19 (accessed May 5, 2016).

Johnston, Norman J. The Fountain to the Mountain - The University of Washington Campus, 1895 – 1995. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995.

Michelson, Alan. University of Washington. Pacific Coast Architecture Database (PCAD). (accessed February 12, 2015).

Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, editor. Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014).

University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections Digital Images.

University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. (accessed October 13, 2014). Historic timeline, compiled by J. Richard Dunn, and based on Stickney, Robert R. Flagship: A History of Fisheries at the University of Washington. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall-Hunt Publishing Company, 1989.








The Fisheries building is located on the north shore of Portage Bay on the UW’s South Campus. The original L-shaped building is laid out with its longer wing oriented in an east-west direction and shorter wing to the west running north-south. It takes advantage of the south-sloping site, with the upper level at grade, accessible from the north, with the lower level also at grade and accessible from the south. The 5-story 1968 addition is at the east end.

The building is a cast-in-place concrete frame structure with columns that define the central circulation and structural bays and concrete walls, floor and roof slabs. The roofs are flat with varying heights expressing interior functions. Roof parapets are finished by horizontal bands of narrow cast stone coping. The two entrances are on the north side, at each end of the long wing. The eastern one has recessed double door and aluminum window units with a large expanse of glass block to the east. The western entry is deeply recessed with aluminum doors and windows and blue ceramic tile.  On the interior, the upper level originally had an auditorium, a library, laboratories, storage, classrooms and offices, arranged along double-loaded corridors. The auditorium projects to the north and west. The lower level of the building contained laboratories and related storage and work rooms.

On the longer facades, the aluminum sash windows of the classrooms and laboratories are arranged in narrow horizontal bands on each level with continuous concrete canopies, about three feet deep, above the windows, creating a strong horizontal line. Cast concrete ledges finished with cement plaster serve as decorative bands.  Originally, horizontal bands of 8-inch square glass block were set above the windows, but these have been filled in. The auditorium wing directly northwest of the main entry; the central penthouse; the south end walls on the west wing; and the east end wall of the main wing are all clad with brick.

On the brick-clad west façade are four large, nearly square windows framed by concrete sills and trim, with true divided aluminum sash units. Other facades have punched windows without sills or trim. The south façade of the west wing has a doorway topped by a tall opening filled with glass block. There are also several secondary entries and loading docks with large overhead doors. At the rear (southeast) is the one-story flat-roofed hatchery wing, with bands of tall aluminum-sash window units. Double-doors open toward the lake shore, with three rectangular fish-rearing ponds and a larger circular pond (now abandoned).

The 1968 addition is connected to the east end of the original building but is distinctly different in appearance, materials and massing. It is a 5-story, generally rectangular concrete frame structure with reinforced concrete walls clad with dark red 3-inch-wide face brick. The notable brickwork includes rotated window bays on the east and west facades, with the bricks splayed to follow the curving contours of the bays. At the south end of the 4th floor is a small balcony with brick walls that serve as balustrades; it is supported in part by corbelled brick masonry at the 3rd story. The uppermost exterior walls feature corbel courses that project out up to 10 inches as they rise to make up the tall parapets. Several brick-paved terraces bring together the interior and exterior. The single-story main entrance, joining the two buildings at the northwest, has a raised brick terrace. On the south elevation, 4 aluminum-framed doors open to a large roof terrace above the first floor. On the east side, the basement projects out with a brick-paved terrace on its roof.


























Detail for 1715 NE COLUMBIA DR NE / Parcel ID / Inv # 0

Classication: Building District Status: NR
Cladding(s): Brick, Ceramic tile, Concrete Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Education - College Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: five
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Education, Health/Medicine, Science & Engineering
Changes to Plan: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Major Bibliographic References

Photo collection for 1715 NE COLUMBIA DR NE / Parcel ID / Inv # 0

Photo taken May 07, 2015

Photo taken May 07, 2016

Photo taken May 07, 2016

Photo taken May 07, 2016

Photo taken May 07, 2016

Photo taken May 07, 2016
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