Alan Liddle, a long-time practicing architect in his hometown of Tacoma, was born in 1922. Liddle showed an early aptitude towards architecture and excelled at drafting classes while attending Stadium High School. At the age of 18, he received third place in a national design competition for his age group in the 1940 Dream House Contest sponsored by the National Housing Exposition.
Liddle received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Washington in 1948 and upon graduation served as a draftsman for the Tacoma architectural firm of Lea, Pearson and Richards (1948-1949). In order to further his architectural education, he left for Switzerland in 1950 to study at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (1950-1951). After his studies abroad, Liddle returned to Tacoma and established his own independent practice 1952.
A commission to act as supervising architect for the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Chauncey Griggs House in Tacoma (1954) put the new practice on the map. Further accolades came from projects such as Liddle’s own mountain cabin (1950) near Mount Rainier which was featured in Sunset Magazine in 1953; and a variety of plywood furniture designs for the Douglas Fir Plywood Association.
An architect of regional renown and one of the leading modernist designers in the Pacific Northwest, Liddle was among a core group of Tacoma architects who operated successful practices during a time of economic strength, population growth, and suburbanization in the south Puget Sound region in the 1950s and 1960s.
In order to handle the increasing commissions, Liddle formed a successful partnership with fellow Tacoma architect, Robert Jones, in 1957. The firm designed a variety of noteworthy projects, many of which were featured in Sunset Magazine. Projects include the Titus-Will Ford Center (1967) in Tacoma; Bothell Jr. High School; the Dr. Buel Sever House (1959); the Methodist Church in Lakewood; University of Washington Hydraulics Building (1961) and Oceanography & Marine Sciences Building (1967); Lundberg House (1960); several structures at Charles Wright Academy in University Place; St. John Hospital in Port Townsend; Seward Elementary School (1962); the Home of Living Light at the Seattle World’s Fair (1962); and the Owen Hughes House (1963).
In 1968, Liddle and Jones parted ways and formed independent practices. Liddle’s work continued to be featured in a variety of publications and garnered numerous accolades. His own home in Lakewood (1969) was featured in Sunset Magazine in 1973, and won a Sunset Western Home award. Other widely published designs included the Galbraith House (1975) and Dr. Huck House (1971) in Lakewood.
Early on in his career, Liddle became active in the local and regional architecture and art communities, where he served on numerous boards. He was president of the Southwest Washington Chapter of the AIA from1967-1968, was an active member of the Tacoma Art League, and was a founding member of the Tacoma Art Museum.
Liddle, who also taught at the University of Washington, was elected to the AIA College of Fellows in 1970. Over the span of his career, Liddle and his associates designed over one hundred residences and more than fifty public buildings, drawing national media attention and winning numerous awards. In 1977 Robert Jacklin became a junior partner in the firm and a full partner in 1982. Liddle retired to a home he designed in Lakewood in 1998 and passed away on May 17, 2009.
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- Michael C. Houser