Lindsey, Chester L.
Credited with changing the Seattle skyline by designing the city’s tallest building, Chester Loren Lindsey, holds a unique place in architectural history of the Pacific Northwest.
Lindsey, a native of Yakima, received his Bachelor of Architectural Engineering degree from Washington State University in 1949. Upon graduation he garnered valuable experience as a designer and draftsman in a variety of offices. He began his career in California, working for the C.F. Braun & Co. and then for architect Benjamin Parker. In 1951, Lindsey returned to the Pacific Northwest and worked with architects Daniel Lamont and Lester Fey. By 1952, he was working for the engineering firm of Hadley & Hadley, consulting on industrial buildings, which would profoundly affect his later career.
With valuable experience at hand, Lindsey opened an independent practice in 1958. That year, Lindsey designed one of the first all-concrete buildings in Seattle to be constructed with job fabricated pre-stressed concrete beams. The Lucas Flour Company (948 Doris St.) boasted 58 ft long beams which are 7.5” thick. Bars of high strength steel were placed in the beam forms before the concrete was poured. They were then surrounded by light metal sleeves to keep the bars from bonding to the concrete. After the concrete was dry, the bars were stretched by the use of hydraulic jacks to a tension of as much as 50 tons per bar. They were then anchored in the stretched position, with grout inserted to fix them in place.
Using his engineering experience, over the next fifty plus years Lindsey designed numerous large multi-story office buildings throughout the Northwest. Projects included office buildings on Queen Anne Hill, high-rises on Fourth Avenue, and approximately a dozen shopping centers, most of them with developer Martin Selig. Notable projects include the Denny Building (1963), the Northgate Executive Center (1974), Fourth and Vine Building (1976), Sedgwick James Building (1979), and Metropolitan Park East (1988).
His most notable project however was the design of the Columbia Seafirst Center/Bank of America Tower in downtown Seattle, completed in 1985. The $200 million, 76-story bank tower was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi.
Lindsey was known for developing young talent, including such architects as Paul Brenna, Curt Beattie and David McDaniels. He passed away in Seattle on August 20, 2003 at the age of 76.
Docomomo WeWA is seeking information about the early career and work of Chester Lindsey.
- Michael C. Houser