Wright, John LeBarron

(1916 - 2015)

Born on June 18, 1916 in Bismark, North Dakota, John "Jack" LeBaron Wright received his architectural degree from the University of Illinois in 1941. During World War II, Wright was employed by the U.S. Army Crops of Engineers in South America, and subsequently served in the Marine Corps, rising to the level of 2nd Lieutenant. After working briefly with the Chicago architectural firm of Freedman, Altshuler & Sincere, Wright joined the firm of Bindon & Jones in Seattle in 1947. Upon Jones' retirement in 1956, Wright became a partner.

Together, Bindon & Wright began to receive many large commissions. Early projects included the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Co. Building (1954); Cromwell Park School (1955), Nooksack High School (1955) and Ferndale Jr. High School (1956). Among their more prominent buildings was the glass curtain-walled 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 of Seattle’s first modern office tower and won a Seattle Chapter AIA Honor Award in 1960.

Several large commissions 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 (1966) and University Center (1970) at Pacific Lutheran University, and Seattle Fire Station No. 40 (1965).

Throughout the 1960s several of Bindon & Wright’s projects received a variety of 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 Committee in 1968.

Architect Elton C. Gildow joined the firm of Bindon & Wright as a new partner in 1968, and the name of the firm was changed to Bindon Wright & Partners. Others soon joined the firm, including George Hartman and Clark Teegarden. The firm changed its name to Wright, Gildow, Hartman, Teegarden Architects & Planners (WGHT) in 1980.

John was a fellow of the AIA and served as President of the Seattle Chapter and Director of the Northwest Region of the AIA. He was also an active member of the Executive Committee of the Forward Thrust program, Chairman of the Redmond Planning Commission, and served as President of the Seattle Urban Renewal.

John passed away in Redmond in January 2015.

- Michael C. Houser

Photo courtesy of Univeristy of Illinois.
Seattle Library - Downtown Branch, Seattle (1960)<br> Photo courtesy of Seattle Library
Suzzallo Library Addition, Seattle (1963)<br> Photo courtesy of U of W Special Collections.
Norton Building, Seattle (1959)<br> Photo courtesy of DAHP.
Seattle City Light Building, Seattle (1957)<br>
University Center, Parkland (1970)<br> Photo courtesy of DAHP.
Photo courtesy of Univeristy of Illinois.