Bindon, Leonard W.
Born in London on June 27, 1899, Leonard William Somerville Bindon migrated to the United States with his family and became a naturalized citizen in 1925. He attended the University of Washington, enrolling first as an English major before changing his major to architecture. However, according to his State Architectural Licensing application, he never formally received a degree from the University.
Bindon gained practical on-the-job experience by working for the firm of Vorhees, Walker & Smith in New York and then for architect James Gamble Rogers also in New York, before returning to the Pacific Northwest in the mid 1920s. He worked for Seattle architect Robert C. Reamer from 1924 to 1929. Some biographies list Bindon as having a Masters degree in Architecture from Columbia University, however this is not noted on his 1930 Licensing application. Around 1935, Bindon established his own private practice in Bellingham and quickly became the most notable architect in that city. His work in Bellingham includes the Bellingham City Hall (1939), the Music Building at Western Washington College (later Western Washington University), and several large Art Deco/Streamline Modern style homes in the Edgemoor neighborhood.
With the onset of World War II, Bindon left his private practice to serve in the Army from 1940-45. While in the military, he attained the rank of Captain, and designed several buildings for the US Army. Among them were several warehouse buildings at the Auburn Army Depot. Upon being discharged, Bindon returned to Seattle to join the architectural firm of Charles Bebb & John Paul Jones. When Bebb left the firm in 1947, Bindon became a partner.
Upon Jones' retirement in 1956, John LeBaron Wright joined with Bindon to form the architectural firm of Bindon & Wright. Together, the two partners began to receive many large commissions in which they would execute in the Modern style. Among their first commissions was the glass curtain wall Seattle City Light Building (1957). Their skill in using this new technology led them to partner with the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill to design the Norton Building in downtown Seattle. Completed in 1959, the 16-story building is recognized as the city’s first modern office tower and won a Seattle Chapter AIA Honor Award in 1960.
Several large projects followed including the downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library (1960), an addition to the Suzzallo Library on the University of Washington Campus (1963), the library at Pacific Lutheran University (1966), and Seattle Fire Station No. 40 (1965).
Throughout the 1960s, several of Bindon & Wright’s projects received awards and recognition. These included the Bethlehem Pacific Coast Steel Corporation Office Building (1960)—a Seattle Chapter AIA Honor Award winner, and the Parke-Davis Company Seattle Sales Office Building (1965) for which they received an award of merit from the Seattle Chapter of the AIA. Other notable projects include three buildings for NW Bell Telephone Management System that garnered awards from the Bell System Architectural Review in 1968.
Architect Elton C. Gildow joined the firm of Bindon & Wright as a new partner in the mid-to-late 1960s to form Bindon Wright & Partners. Other partners soon joined the firm, including George Hartman and Clark Teegarden. The firm changed its name to Wright, Gildow, Hartman, Teegarden Architects and Planners (WGHT). Bindon retired in the late 1960s or early 1970s and passed away in Seattle in 1980.
-Michael C. Houser