Bartholick, George R.
(1921 – 1998)
Born on May 12, 1921 in Bellingham, Washington, George R. Bartholick, Jr. graduated from Bellingham High School in 1939, and began his architectural studies at the University of Washington. During WWII, he left school and served in the Army Air Corps where he flew B-24 Liberator bombers as a navigator. He returned to his studies in 1945, and enrolled in the architecture school at the University of Oregon. After receiving his degree in 1950, he practiced architecture in Holland, Sweden, and Switzerland. While in Europe, his study of local architecture and urban planning led to his distinct “Bartholick” style–harmonizing a building’s design with its surrounding landscape.
After returning to Bellingham in 1956, Bartholick designed many small commercial, residential, and public projects, primarily in northern Washington state. His first residential work was a small Modern style, cedar clad house he designed and built for his mother, Ruth Bartholick in 1957. In the early 1970s, he moved his office to Seattle where he collaborated on several major projects with fellow architects Ibsen Nelson and Fred Bassetti.
Bartholick is best known for his larger projects that focused on renovating existing structures and the planning for future additions, rather than the construction of new buildings. In this he was one of the Northwest’s early preservation planners. His work on the restoration of Pike Place Market (1974-1980) is perhaps his best-known work. He compared the project to restoring a mountain meadow so that if the work “is done well, no one is aware of the presence of new hands.”
Other notable projects include Western Washington State College/University Long Term Planning and the rehabilitation of the main Administration Building (1963-1979), Whatcom Museum remodel (1963-1977), master plan for Woodland Park Zoo (1969-1974), and the Fairhaven Revitalization plan (1979-1980). Bartholick’s planning skills were reflected also in his pivotal role as the campus planner for Western Washington University (WWU) in Bellingham. Most noteworthy is the architectural and sculptural layout of Red Square at WWU.
In 1993 Bartholick began serving as an instructor in Architectural Design and Planning at the University of Guanajuato, Mexico. In 1995 he was elected to the AIA College of Fellows.
Bartholick died in Bellingham on August 31, 1998. His collection of drawing and papers are found at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies at Western Washington University.
– Michael C Houser