Bennett, Gordon S.
Born May 26, 1916 in Manchester, New Hampshire, Gordon Stacey Bennett, received his architectural training at the Wentworth Institute in Boston. After graduating with a degree in structural engineering in 1938, Bennett began his formal architectural training at the University of Oregon in 1939. With his studies interrupted by the war, Bennett eventually graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Oregon in 1946. That same year he received his Washington State architectural license.
Practical experience was gained by working with Victor Louis Wulff in Spokane, and then for the Wohleb firm in Olympia during the summer months. Upon graduation, Bennett took a civil service job as an instructor at the engineering school at Geiger Field in Spokane (April 1946-June 1947.) He then rejoined the Wohleb firm full time where he remained, rising to the level of associate.
In 1961, he opened his own independent practice. Early projects include his own home on French Road in Olympia (1952); the folded plate roof Medical Arts Building (1961), the Price House (1961), and homes for Henry and John Berschauer (1961), all in Olympia.
In 1962, Bennett formed a lasting partnership in Olympia with fellow architect, Steve Johnson. Together the firm of Bennett & Johnson had a profound impact on the built environment in Olympia in the second half of the 20th century. Notable projects include L.P. Brown Elementary School (1965); Dick Lewis Pontiac – Cadillac Park Dealership (1965); the multi-story Capitol Center Building (1966) which became Olympia’s second tallest building; the Pooles’ House (1966); Washington Associations of Industries Building (1967); WA State Employees Credit Union (1967); Olympia Federal Savings & Loan (1967, 1978); and Pioneer Elementary School (1969).
Later projects by the firm include an addition to St. Peters Hospital; a garage and shop at Evergreen State College (1971); Capitol High School (1976) which won a NW Lath & Plaster Bureau award; and the Thurston County Courthouse (1977).
In 1964, Robert Slenes and Frank Smith joined the firm. The firm was renamed “The BJSS Group” in 1983, and after several mergers is known today as Ambia. Bennett retired from the practice in 1994. He passed away in Issaquah at the age of 82 on December 15, 1998.
Upon Bennett’s death, the family established a scholarship fund at the University of Oregon to provide annual financial assistance to first or second year undergraduate architectural students. During his early career, Bennett was active in the Washington State Council of Architects and was instrumental in crafting new architectural registration law. Later he served on the registration board.
-Michael C. Houser