Van Horne, John

(1918 - 2003)

Born on April 19, 1918 in New York City, John Van Horne grew up on Long Island and Pleasantville, NY until his family moved to New York City in 1933. After attending Harvard University for two years, his education was interrupted by World War II when he enlisted in the Navy and served in the Seabees in the South Pacific. After the war, he completed his degree at the School of Architecture at New York University in 1947 and later received his architect's license in New York State.

Audrey Jupp, John Van Horne’s wife and partner, was born on April 18, 1924 in New York City and grew up in New Jersey. She attended the Hartridge School and later, enrolled in the School of Architecture at the University of Michigan (1942-1944). She later transferred to the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University studying under Walter Gropius and graduated in 1947 with a Master in Architecture.

Upon graduation, John and Audrey began working for the New York City architectural firm of Nemeny & Geller, and then for the firm of Raymond & Rado. In 1947, they married marking the beginning of a life together in the world of design, painting and photography. In 1948, the Van Hornes relocated to Seattle, seeking exciting, unknown, new possibilities in architecture.

On arrival in Seattle John worked for Paul Thiry and later for Bassetti & Morse. During his years in practice John took numerous courses at the University of Washington including classes in engineering, computer science and art. Audrey’s interest in education lead her to developing, with a friend, the Choice Program in their children’s school. The program provided the opportunity for parents to teach classes once a week. For a number of years Audrey also she taught an “Introduction to Construction“ course at Edmonds Community College.

In 1951 John established his own independent firm. Five years later in 1956, Audrey joined the firm and it became Van Horne & Van Horne Architects. Their initial work was largely residential. The first houses the firm designed were in the Hilltop Community south of Bellevue—the Smith House (1952) and the Prechek House (1954). Another early residence was for Sidney and Marica Abrams on Mercer Island (1958) which included Marica’s painting studio and adequate space for the display of her work. Larger projects in the 1950s and early 1960s included the Imperial 400 Motels (1962), which were planned for the anticipated visitors coming to Seattle World’s Fair in 1962.

In 1966, Van Horne & Van Horne started projects for the Seattle Public Schools included fire safety and seismic improvement for some of their older school buildings.
Work in the 1960s also included low-income housing working with a Seattle developer Norward Brooks and with FHA. During the course of the years there were other multifamily projects, dealing with code changes, providing for the elderly, and preserving some of the older stock of buildings.

In the 1970s, John’s unique capability in structures and math led to his being recruited by an Everett precast concrete company to calculate and draw up the precast concrete structural members of the King Dome.

Also in the 1970s, the firm worked with the owner of Hidden Valley Camp (outside of Granite Falls) to improve the facilities and designing a new lodge - built close to the forest and constructed with local materials. They also worked on several major renovations including the new Computer Science Lab in the University of Washington’s Sieg Hall (1974), a major renovation of Savery Hall for the Philosophy Department (1975). In 1971 the firm renovated an older brick parking garage at Seattle Center for the Pottery Northwest studios and teaching center.

In the 1980s the firm became a woman-owned business with Audrey owning 51% of the business. As a WBE (Women Business Enterprise), the firm expanded their repertoire of projects including designing the expansion of the Hippo Viewing Area (1981) and an extensive remodeling of the Tropical/Nocturnal House (1985) at the Woodland Park Zoo. Projects with the Parks Department continued in the 1990s with the renovation of the Conservatory (1993) at Volunteer Park. The wood frame building had deteriorated due to the very high humidity and the structure was reconstructed in aluminum replicating the original wood design.

John Van Horne passed away April 23, 2003. The firm of Van Horne & Van Horne officially closed in 2008. Today Audrey continues to actively follow new needs in design and planning that incorporate and respect the environment and resides in the Seattle home that she and John designed and built for themselves in 1953 and raised their five children.

John Van Horne, ca. 1955 / Audrey Van Horne
Prechek House, ca. 1955 / Joan McNeil
Van Horne Residence
Prechek House, 2010 / Vista Estate Imaging
John and Audrey Van Horne House, 1953 /
Smith House, 2010 / Vista Estate Imaging
John Van Horne, ca. 1955 / Audrey Van Horne