Architectural engineer Einar Svensson was born in Sognefiord, Norway on September 6, 1926. After attending college in Norway and earning a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, Svensson migrated to Seattle by way of Canada in 1958 and became a naturalized US citizen.
At the time he was hired as the principal civil engineer with the Alweg Co., a German transportation company known for pioneering straddle-beam monorails. While there he served as a key engineer for the firm’s development of monorail technology and construction worldwide. Perhaps most notably, Svensson worked with Alweg in designing America’s first commercial monorail built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.
He quickly became a world authority on the theoretical and practical aspects of monorail systems, and Svensson has spent a lifetime advocating for the benefits of monorail as a form of mass transportation. Over the course of his career he has written and lectured extensively on monorail technology and engineering, as well as the various aspects of construction costs and operations. Currently, Svensson holds numerous patents relating to monorail technologies. Later he even established his own monorail company, Urbanaut, which is currently based in North Bend, Washington. Projects by the company include the 100-mile long Urbanaut Wolmido Monorail in Incheon City, South Korea.
Over the course of his career, Svensson specialized in steel and reinforced concrete, as well as pre-stressed concrete structures. He was the principal designer for the concrete structures for the Seattle Monorail and served as the structural engineer for Gould Hall (1971) at the University of Washington. Svensson also designed several warehouses and commercial buildings along the Edmonds waterfront.
In 1964 Svensson moved to Edmonds, sharing office space with architect William Ritzenthaler and designer J.P. McClellan.
For several years Svensson also owned and operated his own national housing manufacturing business, called the Haida Hide Inc., incorporated on July 12, 1965. Heavily advertised in a variety of national building magazines such as Sunset and Better Homes & Gardens, Haida Hide models have been shipped worldwide. The most popular model was a modified A-frame vacation house, easily recognizable with its with low-canted outside walls. While Svensson provided the engineering aspects of the designs, he hired in-house architect Don Lassiter to complete the aesthetic details of the various plans.
In his spare time Svensson has also been a lifelong competitive cross-country skier. In fact, he was the first US citizen to win the prestigious Holmenkollmarsjen Festival Race in 1976 (the largest cross country race in the world). He has won eleven age group world champions in cross country, including a gold medal at the Masters World Championships and National Masters Championships. In 1987-1988 he was awarded the Master Cross Country Skier of the Year. Svensson has also written a book about skiing, Ski Skating with Champions: How to Ski with Least Energy. Published in 1994, the book remains one of the most popular guides to competitive cross country skiing to this day.
- Michael C. Houser