Bud Nelson, Innovative Northwest Architect

Albert W. "Bud" Nelson took risks - not only as a Navy aviator in the Korean War, but as one of the architects who helped develop Northwest contemporary architecture.

He didn't see Seattle's forests, ravines and bluffs as things to conquer, but as beautiful settings for one of-a-kind homes. He used natural woods and earth tones, and captured views from varied levels, which added to his mystique.

"The thing that strikes me about Bud is the timelessness of his architecture," said his wife of 19 years, Sally Nelson of Three Tree Point, west of Burien. "The home we're living in was built in 1978, but looks new."

The stepped roofline of the five-level residence mirrors the topography of the 45-degree hillside on which the home sits. Despite its water view, the home displaced no trees.

A Nelson-designed home in Northwest Seattle includes a 50-foot bridge spanning a ravine to connect the house on one side and a garage on the other.

Mr. Nelson died of heart failure last Wednesday (Jan. 8). He was 67.

Born and reared in Bremerton, he began his architecture studies in 1947 at the University of Washington, where he earned a bachelor of science degree and an Alpha Rho Chi design award in 1958.

His studies took so long because he interrupted them to serve as a Navy pilot in the Korean War.

He earned medals and logged 2,500 flight hours. He remained in the Naval Reserve 20 years, at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and

the former Naval Station Puget Sound at Sand Point.

In civilian life he was a partner in the prestigious architecture firms Van Slyke, Callison, Nelson, and one run by John Graham.

He ran his own firm, Albert Nelson and Associates, until he died.

"He was an architect even in the kitchen," said his wife. "He built these monstrous pies with incredible crusts, and put a pie-crust replica of the pie's fruit on top."

Mr. Nelson shared his designer skills with the community. He served on the board of King County Multi-Service Center in Federal Way, evaluating buildings for the group to purchase. He also mentored at-risk youth in Seattle's Steps Ahead nonprofit program.

"From Navy pilot to architect to pie-maker and volunteer," said his wife, "Bud was a unique individual."

Other survivors include his sons Lee Nelson of San Antonio, Texas; Mark Nelson, Portland; and Jeff Moore, Kent; his daughter, Jennifer Nelson, Burien; his sister, Yvonne Robinson, Manson, Chelan County; and three grandchildren.

Services have been held. Remembrances may go to Highline Community College Foundation, c/o Ken Feather, 14242 Ambaum Blvd. S.W., Burien, WA 98166.