Paul Hayden Kirk Left His Mark On Architecture Of Northwest

Paul Hayden Kirk was one of the most widely written-about Seattle architects of his time.

He died Monday of natural causes at the age of 80. His architectural work, however, lives on as a key to the Northwest's architectural past.

Mr. Kirk often was associated with the Northwest style of home - which complements the region's characteristic woods, hillsides and other natural settings.

Although he was famous for helping cultivate this style, his work expresses a spirit of individuality, said Seattle architecture historian David Rash.

"He's always been one that's been a little hard to pigeonhole. His houses don't have a distinctive look," Rash said.

The Kirk look, if there was one, was subdued and often contained elements of the Northwest style - boxy shapes, unadorned designs, big windows to capture nature views and practical interiors.

Most of Mr. Kirk's homes featured wood and other rustic materials and a flat roof, Rash pointed out.

A friend whose simplistic Snohomish County home Mr. Kirk designed in 1951 once joked that a visitor thought it looked more like a chicken coop than a farmhouse.

But most of all, "he was concerned with meeting the client's programmatic goals and achieving a practical structure," Rash said.

Mr. Kirk had been an architect since he opened his own office in Seattle in 1939, just two years after graduating from the University of Washington.

The design work of his firm received local and national recognition, both for private residences and, later, institutional buildings.

Among the local buildings designed by Mr. Kirk: the Intiman Theatre building and Exhibition Hall at Seattle Center; Balmer, Haggett, Meany and McMahon halls at the University of Washington; and UW's Odegaard Undergraduate Library.

He also designed a summer home on Lake Sammamish for his older brother Blair Kirk, a former Seattle building contractor. Blair Kirk, 83, said his brother probably would have considered his contribution to the Northwest style as his greatest accomplishment.

Mr. Kirk also is survived by his wife, Helen of Kirkland, his sister, Marjorie Fleming of Bellevue, his son, Chris, of New York City, his daughter, Hannah, of Everson, Whatcom County, and three grandchildren.

A memorial service for Mr. Kirk will be held at noon Friday at the University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave. N.E., a building he designed.