Dietz, Robert H.

(1912 - 2006)

Born on January 26, 1912 in Crofton, Nebraska, Robert Henry Dietz moved to Seattle with his family at the age of seven, and graduated from O'Dea High School in 1929. After his graduation from the University of Washington (BArch 1941), he received a scholarship to attend MIT (MArch 1944). He went on to hold a position in the office of Scientific Research and Development at Princeton University, representing this division in bomb analysis during the war years.

Dietz worked with a variety of architectural firms including Paul Hayden Kirk, Edgar Johnson, and J. Lister Holmes (1947-52) in Seattle as well as for Martin Beck in Princeton and Anderson and Beckwith in Cambridge. Upon moving back to Seattle, Dietz, as an independent designer, was awarded the Seattle AIA Chapterís first honor award for the design of the Jack Wolf House on Mercer Island in 1950. In 1952, Dietz formed a partnership with fellow architect Lawrence Waldron (1952-67). The firm was recognized for its outstanding work by the local chapter of the AIA with five additional honor awards and one merit award over the next seven years.

Beginning in 1947, Dietz taught in the University of Washington Department of Architecture, and in 1958, achieved the rank of Professor. In 1962, he succeeded Arthur Herrman as Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Under his leadership, the College saw major expansions with the founding of three new departments (Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture and Building Construction) and the transformation of the professional degree in Architecture from an undergraduate to a graduate level.

Noted projects by Waldron & Dietz include Emmanuel Episcopal Church (1960 - Seattle AIA Honor Award) on Mercer Island, the Taskett Agency Office Building (1955 - Seattle AIA Honor Award) in Seattle, and a sunroom addition to the University of Washington Presidents House. The firm specialized in schools and received note in several architectural journals regarding these projects. Among their best-known schools are Woodway Elementary School (1956- Seattle AIA Honor Award) and Edmonds High School (1959 - Seattle AIA Merit Award) in Edmonds, Chinook Jr. High School (1958) and Normandy Park Elementary School (1954) in Seattle, Meridian Jr. High School (1958) and Covington Elementary School (1961) in Kent, and Olympic View Jr. High School (1957 - Seattle AIA Honor Award) in Mulkiteo.

Robert Dietz served on the design committee for the Seattle World's Fair and as President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to the National Commission on Architectural Barriers to improve disabled access. He also served on the National Architectural Accrediting Board and traveled around the country to assess college architecture departments.

In 1965, Dietz was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows for his distinguished contributions to the profession. He retired in 1980 and moved to Arizona, where he died on May 8, 2006, at the age of 94.

-Michael C. Houser

Photo courtesy of Department of Architectural Licensing.
Chinook Jr. High School, Seattle (1958) <br>Photo courtesy of UW Special Collections
Dietz House, Kirkland (1952) <br>Photo courtesy of UW Special Collections
Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Mercer Island (1960) <br>Photo courtesy of UW Special Collections
Normandy Park Elementary School, Seattle (1954) <br>Photo courtesy of UW Special Collections
Jack Wolf House, Mercer Island (1950) <br>Photo courtesy of UW Special Collections
Photo courtesy of Department of Architectural Licensing.