Campanella, Felice M.
Italian–American immigrant Felice “Felix” Martin Campanella was born in Roccella Ionica, Italy on September 10, 1930. Destined to become an artist, he became a protégé’ of a local Italian painter at a young age of ten. However, the pending war forced his parents to flee Italy and the family moved to Seattle in 1942.
After graduating from Seattle’s Garfield High School in 1948, Campanella attended the University of Washington, graduating with a BA in Architecture in 1953. A talented student, he gave up a Fulbright Scholarship to study art in Italy so he could work in Seattle to support his widowed mother. While in school he served as a draftsman for NBBJ (1951), and designed homes for the Pan Abode Cedar Co. (1952-53).
For a short time he worked as a designer for Consolidated Services Inc., and then formed a partnership with fellow Consolidated Services Inc. employee David Johnston in Seattle in 1954. Together the Johnston-Campanella firm would have great success in the Puget Sound area, particularly on the east side of Lake Washington. One of their first major projects was to prepare plans for a 150-acre regional shopping center for the Maingate Development Co. in Renton and the firm decided to move to the city in 1956.
Their supermarket design for the Renton Market Basket supermarket (1958) garnered the firm the first National AIA award for supermarket design (1959). The all steel building was dramatically lit inside and out and had painted scenes on the interior walls. Other supermarkets followed including the Market Basket in Yakima (c 1962) and the Foodland Shopping Center in Fairbanks. Alaska (1961).
However it was their project for the Renton Civic Center (planned in 1964) that brought them much acclaim. First constructed was the Library (1966), which spanned across the 80’ wide Cedar River. The design allowed the land to be conserved for a parking lot. A $1.3 million dollar multi-story city hall building followed (1968).
The firm also took on a variety of religious structures including Kirkland’s Holy Family Catholic Church and School (1958); Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School & Convent in Riverton-Boulevard Park (1960); St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Ballard (1962); St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Education Unit (1961) in Renton; Hall of Religions / Christian Witness Pavilion for Century 21 Expo (1961); Our Lady of Guadalupe School (1962) one of the first pre-stressed concrete buildings in the west Seattle area; the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection Parish Hall (1962) in Lake Hills neighborhood of Bellevue; St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Parish Hall (1964) in Issaquah; and Fairwood Community United Methodist Church (1973) in Renton.
Other notable projects included the Valencia Apartments (1960); Renton Airport Control Tower (c1965); the Renton Inn (1965); Seattle-King County Civil Defense Emergency Center (1966); Cedar Hills Alcoholic Rehab Center (1966); King County Library- Maple Valley Branch (1968); the National Bank of Commerce (1970) in Kent; Tony Go’s Restaurant (1972) in Renton; Walton Industrial Building (1973) in Lynwood; a Library (1975) in Snoqualmie; and the Land Title Associate Building (1977) in Bremerton.
The firm also designed a variety of schools, many with unusual roof forms and floor plans. Projects include Cascade Elementary School (1961, 1968 addition) in Renton; Maplewood Heights Elementary School (1967); Renton Park Elementary School (1965); Renton Technical College (c.1967); Sierra Heights Elementary School (1969); Earlington Elementary School (1972) in Renton; Sharon Drive Elementary School (1973) in Mukilteo; Snoqualmie Middle School (1973) in North Bend; Bryn Mawr Elementary School addition (1972) in Renton; and Central Elementary School (1974) in Sedro-Wooley;
With the firm growing leaps and bounds, in 1962 Robert S. Burns became a partner and the firms named was changed to Johnston, Campanella & Co.. Terry Murakami was added to the firm in 1966 and was changed again to Johnson, Campanella, Murakami & Co.. Burns left the partnership in the late in 1960s and Charles Brummitt was added (1969).
Campanella was active in a variety of professional and social organizations including the Kiwanis, the Knights of Columbus and Toastmasters International. He was also a founding member of Allied Arts of Renton.
In 1973 the Italian government, via its Seattle consulate, awarded Campanella the honorary tittle of “Cavaliere” (the equivalent of knighthood) for his zealous promotion of Italian culture.
With business going well, in 1978 Campanella opened a real-estate, development firm called CMB Development Corp. Among their known projects are the Evergreen Industrial Center in Woodinville (1980); 1300 University Street Condominium on First Hill (1980); and Pacific Heights Office Center (1982) in Bellevue.
Campanella left his architectural practice in 1981 and retired in 1989. He passed away in Renton on January 31, 1999.
-Michael C. Houser