NRHP ELIGIBILITY RECOMMENDATION
As described in this Historic Property Inventory report,
this building is recommended eligible for listing in the NRHP. It appears to meets eligibility Criterion A
because of its strong association with economic heritage of northwest aerospace
industry and the growth of the University's engineering programs in the
post-war era. The Brutalist style
building dates from the late 1960s, and it is a well executed and
award-winning design by architect
Phillip Jacobsen of the multi-disciplinary Seattle firm of Young, Richardson
and Carleton (TRA). This building also
appears to contribute to the recommended Central Campus Historic District.
Engineering studies related to aerodynamics
have had a long history at the University, largely in response to local
industries and the presence of the Boeing Company. Associated buildings on the campus include
the Boeing Aerodynamic Laboratory (1917), Guggenheim Hall (1930) and the
Kristen Wind Tunnel (1936-1937). (These three
buildings are located in close proximity to the ARE Building.)
When the University founded the Department of Aeronautics in
1929, it was one of the first in the nation, and one of seven university
programs established with assistance from the Guggenheim Fund for the
Advancement of Aeronautics. Despite losses in
funding and reduction in staff and student enrollment during the Depression,
engineering remained a popular field. Enrollment in the programs within the
Engineering College grew during the 1930s, and during World War II accelerated
courses were offered to assist the war effort.
While student enrollment dropped to low numbers during the war, it rose
considerably with passage of the G.I. Bill, which funded tuition for returning
The aerospace program grew in the post-war era with support from local
industries and national grants, and astronautics was added to the
department in 1961. It impact of the
research programs on the regional economy and recent NASA grants to ten recent graduate was lauded in a local
newspaper article: “Much of the research is directly to
the regional economy….The value to this area of maximum University of
Washington participation in aerospace research should be obvious …. Aerospace
research in progress on the campus includes studies in re-entry dynamics, wave
propagation in solids, solid-propellant engines and stability characteristics
of vertical-take-off aircraft.” The same
editorial cited the formation of a university committee of ten departments on
space-science research, and the tripling of research grant and contract funds
since 1954, which then exceeded $23 million dollars annually in addition to the
department’s regular budgets for research (Seattle
Times, December 21, 1962).
In 1966, NSA grants of $1.5 million helped construct the new
AERB, which was dedicated in 1970. The building was designed by Seattle architect
Phillip Lee Jacobsen (1928 - ) of Young,
Richardson and Carleton (later known as The Richardson Associates or TRA). Despite the type of dynamic lab studies
within the structure, its design is a simple brick-clad Brutalist style. In
1971, the building’s design was recognized by an Honor Award given to TRA by
the local chapter of the AIA (Seattle AIA website).
Jacobson was born in Santa Monica and moved to Seattle with
his family as a boy in 1941, and graduated from Washington State University with
Bachelors in Architectural Engineering in 1952.
He also received two Fulbright Grants for continued studies in England
and Finland. Returning to the US, he
worked as a draftsman and designer for Seattle architect John W. Maloney and
San Francisco architect John Carl Warnecke.
He joined TRA in 1955. Other
projects at TRA included McCarty Hall, Hitchcock Hall, and Health Sciences
Wings G, H and I, as well as the King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way and
Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.
His civic activities included service as the AIA Seattle Senior Council
President and board member of the Pilchuck Glass Studio, AIA Seattle, and
Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board. He received many honors during his
career, including a Knight Order from the Government of Finland and Fellowship
status in the AIA, and his work was published in over 80 design journals. Jacobson served on the faculty of the
University’s Department of Architecture and Urban Planning from 1962 to 2000
Presently known as the William E. Boeing Department of
Aeronautics and Astronautics, the school offers the only aerospace degree
program in the Pacific Northwest, with an undergraduate Bachelor of Science
degree, professional master’s degrees in several fields and a doctorate degree.
Its faculty includes 19 core members and research faculty, in addition to
adjunct and affiliate faculty, and ten post-doctoral research assistants. In 2016, undergraduate enrollment numbered 226
and graduate enrollment 234; women students made up approximately 18.5% of the
students. Research areas focus on
controls, fluids, plasma science and structures.
Aerospace Engineering Research Building was built for $1,516,240 in 1969. A later $1,742,000 addition, completed in
1990, also designed by TRA, added 10,900 square feet to the building’s east
side. The building’s construction was funded from a grant by NASA for an
aerospace and energetic research program and it was built to house a number of laboratories in an
increasingly technical filed of study: the Autonomous Flight Systems
Lab, Computational Plasma
Dynamics Lab, Computational Fluid Mechanics
Lab, Helicity Injected Torus –
Steady Inductive (HIT-SI) Lab,
Nonlinear Dynamics and
Controls Lab, and its facilities included a shockwave reactor (UW
College of Engineering).
The AERB appears intact and well maintained, and it is
expressive of its original design. It
exemplifies the Brutalist style, and appears to meet Criterion C for National
Register listing. Because of its
historical association with the region’s aerospace building, it may also be
eligible as a historically significant component in a district, along with the
nearby Guggenheim Hall, Kristen Wind
Tunnel, and Aerodynamics Laboratory.
Norman J. The Fountain & the Mountain: The University of Washington Campus,
1895 - 1995. Seattle: University of
Washington Press, 1995, p. pp. 60, 136, 157,
Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects,
2nd ed. Seattle: University of
Washington Press, 2014, pp. 447, 465, 472,
487, 489, 494.
website, Honor Awards, https://www.aiaseattle.org/awards/honor-awards/
(accessed October 25, 2016).
“U. Research: Key to New Industry,” (editorial) Seattle Times, December 21, 1962, p. 10.
Michelson, Alan. University of
Washington Libraries Special Collection. “Pacific Coast Architects Database
(PCAD) (accessed December 29, 1016).
UW College of
Engineering website, “Aerospace and Engineering Research Building,” https://www.engr.washington.edu/about/bldgs/aer
(accessed October 27, 2016).
William E. Boeing
Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, “About Us,” http://www.aa.washington.edu/
(accessed December 29, 2016).