Carl F. Gould founded the University of Washington’s Department of Architecture, providing the state of Washington with a pool of locally educated designers. He was a prolific architect who, in partnership with Charles H. Bebb (1856-1942), designed such well-known structures as the University of Washington's Suzzallo Library, the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park, the Everett Public Library, and the Longview Post Office.
Born in New York on November 24, 1873, to a wealthy family, Gould pursued a Harvard education, which groomed him for study at the prestigious Parisian Ecole des Beaux Arts. This education shaped Gould’s view of architecture and the curriculum he fashioned for the University of Washington.
In the nineteenth century, the Ecole des Beaux Arts was a phenomenal architectural force. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, many American architectural programs followed its ideals. The Beaux Arts format of study provided an academic grounding in architecture through an investigation of significant works and a close understanding of architectural theory. The program also stressed rigorous studio work.
For five years, from 1898 to 1903, Gould studied in Paris, gleaning the benefits of this fashionable program. Upon return to New York, he interned with the influential McKim, Mead, and White, one of the most highly regarded architectural firms in the United States. Between 1905 and 1907, Gould assisted fellow Beaux-Arts classmates with high profile projects.
In 1905, for example, he moved to San Francisco to assist Edward Bennett with the city’s Burnham Plan. In 1906, he contributed to George B. Post & Sons successful Wisconsin State Capitol Competition designs.
In 1907, Gould suffered a year-long illness. Upon his recovery in 1908, he moved to Seattle and began a career that shaped local architecture and architectural education for generations.
In the first years of the twentieth century, Seattle’s architects came from varied, often nonacademic backgrounds. Those with academic training had attended East Coast schools. Many learned the trade through apprenticeships with established firms. In 1908, when he began working in Seattle, Gould was relatively unique. He was also extremely prolific.
Gould initially provided drafting skills to established architects, drawing plans for the firm of Everett & Baker, and Daniel Huntington. In partnership with Huntington, Gould designed several houses, a few apartments, and mixed use buildings. In 1911, the team entered the Washington State Capitol Campus Competition, but was unsuccessful.
While in partnership with Huntington, Gould independently designed five houses and a few commercial buildings. From 1912 to 1914, he designed 15 houses while lending his experience to a number of community initiatives.
Gould actively promoted Seattle’s 1911 Bogue Plan, a comprehensive plan for the city initiated in 1908 by members of the Washington State American Institute of Architects (AIA). It was ultimately unsuccessful, in part because of the requisite overwhelming costs. The design itself was influenced by a national trend known as the City Beautiful Movement, sparked by the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. This exposition provided Americans with an ideal city of wide boulevards, centralizing monuments, and classical white buildings.
From 1912 to 1916 (and again from 1926 to 1929), Gould served as President of Seattle’s Fine Arts Society and assumed a leadership role with both the Architectural League of the Pacific Coast and the American Institute of Architects. These affiliations served Gould well, providing the architect with a number of opportunities unavailable without such connections.
His 1914 partnership with Charles Bebb strengthened Gould's relationship with local politics and the architectural community. Bebb had been practicing in Seattle since 1890, and was a founding member of the Washington State Chapter of the AIA. In 1910 (along with W.R.B. Willcox) Bebb was one of the first Washington state AIA Fellows, a prestigious distinction within the country’s foremost professional architectural organization.
Bebb oversaw the firm’s administration, including contracts and specifications while Gould was the primary designer and planner. Their combined talents secured a number of high profile projects including the Government Locks at Ballard (1914-1916), part of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.
Between 1914 and 1924, Bebb & Gould were extremely prolific. Their more than 200 works were varied, executed in numerous popular architectural styles. An example of their early work, the Seattle Times Building in downtown Seattle on Olive Way and Stewart Street at 4th Avenue, points to Gould’s educational background.
The design uses many classical elements in the manner of many American Beaux Arts-inspired buildings. The details suggest a master draftsman. The horizontal lines running across the surface of the entire exterior (coursing), along with the building’s elaborate projecting roof (cornice) with decorative brackets (modillions), as well as its multi-storied round-arched windows all conform to conventions enforced by the Beaux Arts program.
In 1915, Bebb & Gould received the commission for the University of Washington’s campus plan. Gould designed 18 buildings for the University including Suzzallo Library (1922-1927) and Anderson Hall (1924-1925).
Gould’s interest in the University of Washington extended beyond his campus designs. Before his partnership with Bebb, Gould lectured on domestic architecture within the University’s home economics program. He divided the course into five parts including:
- The concept of the house
- The historic evolution of the house
- Structural issues
- Floorplan studies
- A history of architecture, including the classical orders
In 1914, Gould founded the Department of Architecture, arguing the need for trained local designers. The city of Seattle was growing rapidly; Seattle’s educated architects learned in other parts of the country or in Europe. Gould’s argument was overwhelmingly civic; Seattle needed its own educational base.
Gould and Bebb continued their partnership throughout Gould’s fight for architectural education and during his tenure as a University of Washington faculty member. From 1915 to 1926, he served as chair of the department of architecture.
After 1924, Bebb’s participation in the firm significantly dropped. This negatively affected the productivity of their once prolific partnership. Within the subsequent decade, Gould completed fewer than 100 projects throughout Washington state. These included five telephone offices for the communities of Longview, Yakima, Bremerton, Centralia, and Tacoma.
In spite of Bebb’s waning participation, and the Great Depression, which undercut local construction demands, Gould continued to produce high quality public works. These included remodeling and expanding The Rainier Club (1929) in Seattle, the Longview Post Office (1932) and Everett Public Library (1933-1934).
One of the most celebrated designs of this period is the Art Institute of Seattle (1931-1933), now the Seattle Asian Art Museum, in Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill. Designed in the moderne style, which uses bold sweeping horizontal lines, plain surfaces, and abstract decorative details, the Art Institute received honors in 1935 from the Architectural League of New York.
The moderne U. S. Marine Hospital (1930-1932), towering over Beacon Hill, also won an award from the Architectural League.
Appropriately, Gould did his last work with the University of Washington. Working with drama school director, John Conway, and civil engineering professor Sergius Sergev, Gould helped design the first “theater-in-the-round,” in which the stage can be viewed from all sides.
Carl Gould died on January 4, 1939, leaving a significant and long-lasting legacy of high quality public works, community activism, and architectural education, which continue to influence the area’s built heritage.