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Summary for 4400 FREMONT AVE / Parcel ID 5694000400 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Gamma Rho Apartments Common Name:
Style: Modern - Northwest Regional Neighborhood: Fremont
Built By: Year Built: 1950
Located mid-block along the east side of Fremont Avenue at the intersection with N. 44th St. Two-story, wood-frame, 12-unit apartment house. Measures approx. 38’ x 117’ with a concrete foundation and partial basement level. Flat roof. Distinctive minimal Mid-Century Modern design. Essentially a two-story flat rectangular box form that is organized into nine structural bays that are unified in three groups forming six apartment units at each floor level. The south elevation is defined by three central recessed bays flanked by flush walls; the recessed bays function as sets of entry porches at the ground level and terraces at the upper level. A flush wing wall divides each recess. The fenestration pattern reflects the apartment breakup with slender aluminum window units (a wide central fixed unit flanked by narrow casement windows) that extend the entire width of each of the flush bays at both floor levels. Wall surfaces are entirely clad with flush vertical cedar siding. The west elevation has no window openings and is entirely flat. There are no roof overhangs; the roofline is edged with a simple metal coping. The north elevation exhibits a continuous band of aluminum windows at the second floor level similar to those at the south elevation. The ground floor level includes six recessed porches that provide access to the upper units. Original guardrails at the upper floor level terraces appear to have a painted metal frame with mesh screen; they have been replaced with modern wooden rails and uprights that are out-of character with the original design. There is a large open lawn area to the south of the building; additional research/field examination is necessary to determine if there are any extant designed landscape elements.
The Gamma Rho Apartment Building is a distinctive Mid-Century Modern apartment house. It appears to be the most significant example of modern era design in Fremont. It was designed by the firm of Bassetti & Morse and constructed by C & R Builders in 1950-51 on a vacant land parcel. Permit #400681 indicates that Fred Bassetti applied for the building permit on March 28, 1950, listed himself as the architect and indicated a construction cost of $80,000. Wendell Lovett, who worked for the firm at that time may have played a role in the design. Construction was complete by March 2, 1951. The firm of Bassetti & Morse was awarded a National AIA Honor award in 1952 for the design of the Gamma Rho Apartments. The complex was originally owned by Gamma Rho Inc. (land purchased 7-20-1950) and appears to have remained in that ownership until 1998. The son of Norwegian and Italian immigrant parents, Frederick Forde Bassetti (b. 1917) grew up in Seattle and earned a BArch from the University of Washington in 1942 and a MArch from Harvard University in 1946. Following a brief apprenticeship with Paul Thiry, Bassetti worked as a draftsman for Alvar Aalto in Cambridge, MA and served as a designer for the architectural firm of NBBJ in Seattle. Bassetti and fellow Harvard graduate John Morse formed a partnership in 1947. The practice was devoted largely to residential designs from individual custom houses to larger developments and public-housing projects. Together, Bassetti & Morse received several local and national awards. Among their more notable residential projects are the G. J. Armbruster House in Lake Stevens which received a Seattle Honor Award, the Gamma Rho Apartments [the subject property] a National Grand Honor award winner (1952), the Gerald Martin House also a National AIA honor award winner (1954), and the Marshall Forrest Residence in Bellingham and the Walter F. Isaacs House in Hilltop which received National Merit Awards in 1953. Their public, commercial and civic projects include the Lakeview Elementary School (1954) and the Mercer Island High School (1958) both on Mercer Island, the East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue (1957), the Bouillion Building (1961) and Library (1961) at CWU. In 1962, Bassetti & Morse divided into two firms, and Fred Bassetti & Company (later Bassetti Architects) came into existence. Bassetti continued to receive large commissions. These included the Children's Zoo at Woodland Park, dormitories and libraries at Central and Western Washington State Colleges, a variety of buildings at the University of Washington and Washington State University, the 37-story Seattle Federal Building (1974), the US Embassy building in Portugal (1979-83), Pine Street Substation (1966), the PACCAR Technical Facility at Mount Vernon, and the 62-story AT&T Gateway Tower (1981-91). Among Bassetti’s many professional leadership activities, he served on the Allied Arts of Seattle, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, and the Seattle Design Commission. He also served as President of the Seattle Chapter of the AIA in 1967-68 and was awarded to the college of Fellows in 1968. A recipient of the AIA Seattle Medal, Bassetti has received recognition as an Academician of the National Institute of Design, and was nominated for the Pritzker Prize in 1989. [Biographical information obtained from Docomomo WEWA webpage]

Detail for 4400 FREMONT AVE / Parcel ID 5694000400 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Vertical - Boards Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Domestic - Multiple Family Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Interior: Unknown
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
City of Seattle DPD Microfilm Records.

Photo collection for 4400 FREMONT AVE / Parcel ID 5694000400 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Apr 15, 2009

Photo taken Apr 05, 2009
App v2.0.1.0