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Summary for 1100 NE CAMPUS PKY NE / Parcel ID / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Condon Hall, Startup Hall Common Name: Condon Hall
Style: Modern - Brutalism Neighborhood: University
Built By: Year Built: 1974
From 1933 to 1974, the University of Washington’s Law School occupied a building on the liberal arts quad known as Condon Hall (and later as Gowen Hall). Growth in the school during the 1960s and early 1970s led to the construction of a new, larger building to accommodate the 500 students and 30 faculty members. Funding was approved in 1971, at an estimated cost of $5.7 million. The new seven-story building was situated “off campus” on a site on NE Campus Parkway where it was prominently placed opposite the Terry Lander dorm complex.  Similar to the post-war dormitories, it was built as a relatively tall, simple slab, but designed as a Brutalist style rendered in cast-in-place concrete. It was named, as had the earlier law school building, for John T. Condon, the school’s first dean.

The building was to be built in two phases. The first phase, constructed in 1974, contained 129,000 square feet, including a 40,100 square foot multi-level law library and reading room on the second floor, and faculty offices and seminar rooms on upper floors. Classrooms, a moot court seating an audience of up to 500, and service and office spaces were located at the first floor. This phase was built for $3,814,900 with an additional $250,000 for furnishings. However, economic conditions in the mid-1970s delayed the construction of second phase. Although the initial plan called to increase the building to 207,000 square feet, it was never realized. 

Designers included the nationally known firm Mitchell Giurgola of Philadelphia, along with a local associated firm, Joyce Copeland Vaughan Nordfors Architects, with partner Lee G. Copeland and structural engineers Skilling Helle and Christiansen Robertson. Led by Romaldo Giurgola (1920 -2016), the prime firm was Mitchell Guirgola of Philadelphia. Upon its completion, the first phase of the building was recognized positively by the design profession, with a Citation of Excellence from the Philadelphia chapter of the AIA in 1976 and a Distinguished Building Award from the Pennsylvania Society of Architects in 1977. 

Romaldo Giurgola was born and educated in Rome, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1949 where he later received a master’s degree from Columbia University. A member of the “Philadelphia School” of Modernism, his practice was international with projects that included the Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center at Kitty Hawk (1958 to 1960), the United Way Headquarters (1971) and Pen Mutual Tower in Philadelphia (1971 to 1975), and the Parliament House (1981 to 1988) in Canberra, Australia, and buildings on the campuses of the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, and Columbia University, among others. He won awards – from the Royal Australian Institute of Architects to the AIA Gold Metal to membership in the National Academy of Design – and his work was widely published. Despite this reputation, the occupants disliked the Law School’s Brutalist style with its raw concrete finishes and highly rational interiors. “By the 1990s, faculty and well-heeled alumni had begun to agitate for the construction of a new building; some said that oppressiveness of Condon … might endanger the viability of the law school itself” (Columns, June 2001). 

The building’s concrete structure was reportedly difficult to modify as technology was introduced to the campus in the 1980s, and the interior layout and arrangement of offices on upper floors was seen as inefficient. Without the second phase, the building soon became crowded, with some of the library collections held in the basement, and the computer lab limited to only 35 students (Columns, June 2001). 

As with many Brutalist style buildings, the public reception of the building was largely negative. The building was soon cited by law school students as ugly, inflexible, and penal (Collins, April 28, 1974). It was criticized also for functional deficiencies with narrow hallways, some of which defied universal access, and windowless classrooms. Security was poor in the under-staffed multi-level law library, which reportedly lost $400,000 in stolen books each year (King, April 4, 1996). Even the Bar Association weighed in, stating that the building was unsuited to the increasingly technological requirements of a law school (Rivera, September 12, 2003). 

Condon Hall remained unpopular with law school students and faculty alike, and with alumni, and a move to return to the main campus was undertaken, along with private fundraising for the new building led by the Gates family. According to one source, the state legislature failed to provide funds to complete the second phase of Condon Hall. In response, the University of Washington proposed to use the cost saved for construction of a new law school building on the campus (King, April 4, 1996). The 196,000 square foot William T. Gates Law School building, by the corporate design firm of Kohn Pedersen Fox of New York with Mithun Architects of Seattle, was constructed in 2003. Its site was within campus, east of 15th Avenue NE on the north edge of Parrington Lawn. 

The subject building was then known as Condon Hall 2, and was subsequently transformed into a temporary “serge” building to house other departments and occupants while their own buildings were under construction. From 2006 through 2013, it served the Departments of Architecture and Construction Management, Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Applied Mathematics, as well as humanities programs, the Ethnic Cultural Center and some functions of the HUB. 

In 2014, Condon Hall’s second-floor spaces and the former 40,100 square foot law library were remodeled to provide co-location space for private and academic start-up organizations. The designer for the new interiors was SHED Architecture of Seattle. The remodel design appears to have embraced the building’s rational and straightforward materiality with a layer of glass and plywood at the interior.

Condon Hall was the subject of a historic property inventory, but it has not yet been evaluated by DAHP for a National Register of Historic Places listing. Despite some changes to its exterior cladding and window replacements, and revisions to the interior of the original library, Condon Hall has retained a high level of integrity. The building is a clear example of the mid-20th century Brutalist style by a well-known architect. 



Collins, Alf, “Off Parcels,” Seattle Times, April 28, 1974, p. 101.

Columns, "Briefings: Law School Returns to Heart of Campus in William H. Gates Hall," June 2001 (accessed November 28, 2016). 

Daley, Paul, “Romaldo Giurgola, architect of Australia’s parliament, was a giant who never forgot the ‘human scale,” The Guardian, May 17, 2016.

Emery, Julie, “U.W. planning $24.5 million in new buildings,” Seattle Times, January 3, 1971, p. 27. 

Johnston, Norman J. The Fountain & the Mountain: The University of Washington Campus, 1895 - 1995. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995, pp. 95, 145-146.

King, Marsha, “Objections Raised Over Plan for New UW Law School,” Seattle Times, April 4, 1996.

Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects, 2nd ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014, p. 492.

Rivera, Ray, “New law school wows UW grad it’s named for,” Seattle Times, September 12, 2003.

University of Washington:Facilities Engineering Records. Libraries. Manuscripts and Special Collections. Digital Photo Collections.

Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, Historic Property Inventory, Property No. 705543. Houser, Michael. April 20, 2016.
Condon Hall clearly expresses its Brutalist style through its massing and varied treatment of the facades, with planes and recesses that emphasize the sculptural qualities of the exposed concrete structure. This style, particularly when clad with brick masonry, was popular on college campuses in the 1960s, and it was used for Guthrie, Benson, Padelford, and Kincaid Halls, along with the Central Plaza assembly and the Aeronautic Engineering Research Building. There are few buildings or structures on the University of Washington campus made of unembellished concrete, with McMahon Hall and the Padelford Garage serving as representative examples, but both have heavily textured board-formed concrete that recall surrounding landscapes. 

Condon Hall is unique, in this context, in its minimalism and its materiality, which recalls the origins of the style. It contrasts with some of the fortress-like massing of some of the brick Brutalist buildings with a relatively narrow tall slab of seven stories, housing offices and seminar spaces, set above a wider base, and the use of fin walls, which are set in tall bris soliel (sun shades) in front of horizontal window bands on the south facade. 

Projecting concrete walls are also used to capture steps, and the east and west end walls of the second-floor library’s north sloped roof section, and support the overhang along the north facade. To facilitate proportions, these thin sections contrast with the cubic massing that projects above the grade at the southeast corner, along the lower level of the south facade, and at the top of the north facade. Dramatic cantilevers are featured above the sidewalk grade along the north facade and at the main entry, while stairs at the east and west ends are treated as simple towers. While the profile of the building mass on the north and south facades is rectangular, the narrower east and west facades have highly articulated shapes that read as an outline of the building’s varied functions.

The structure, built by general contractor, is made of a few seemingly essential materials: concrete, aluminum, and glass. The concrete work on the building is finely detailed with precise vertical joints at sections and horizontal joints that demarked each floor level. Windows are limited largely to the north and south facades, where they run in long horizontal strips of aluminum frame windows with clear glazing subdivided by narrow concrete sections. On the back (north facade) glazing is provided in a very continuous band of windows and sloped skylights that ran nearly the full width of the building to illuminate the law library, while the support row of columns is held in within the interior space. The upper floors on the north contain the bands of windows separated by concrete sections and a shorter continuous band.

Detail for 1100 NE CAMPUS PKY NE / Parcel ID / Inv # 0

Classication: District Status: NR, NR, NR, NR, NR, NR, NR
Cladding(s): Concrete Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s):
Building Type: Education - College Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: No. of Stories: seven
Unit Theme(s): Education
Major Bibliographic References

Photo collection for 1100 NE CAMPUS PKY NE / Parcel ID / Inv # 0

Photo taken Sep 14, 2016
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