Bassetti, Fred F.
(1917 – 2013)
University of Washington Years
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The son of Norwegian and Italian immigrant parents, Frederick Forde Bassetti grew up in Seattle and earned a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Washington in 1942 and a Master of Architecture from Harvard University in 1946.
Following a brief apprenticeship with Paul Thiry, Bassetti worked as a draftsman for Alvar Aalto in Cambridge, MA and served as a designer for the architectural firm of NBBJ in Seattle. Bassetti and fellow Harvard graduate John Morse formed a partnership in 1947. The practice was devoted largely to residential designs from individual custom houses to larger developments and public-housing projects. Together, Bassetti & Morse received several local and national awards. Among their more notable residential projects are the G. J. Armbruster House in Lake Stevens which received a Seattle Honor Award, the Gamma Rho Apartments, a National Grand Honor award winner (1952), the Gerald Martin House, also a National AIA honor award winner (1954), and the Marshall Forrest Residence in Bellingham and the Walter F. Isaacs House in Hilltop which received National Merit Awards in 1953.
Their public, commercial, and civic projects include the Lakeview Elementary School (1954) and the Mercer Island High School (1958) both on Mercer Island, the East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue (1957), the Bouillion Building (1961) and Library (1961) at Central Washington University. In 1962, the firm of Bassetti & Morse dissolved, and Fred Bassetti & Company (later Bassetti Architects) came into existence.
Now on his own, Bassetti continued to receive large commissions. These included the Children’s Zoo at Woodland Park, dormitories and libraries at Central and Western Washington State Universities, a variety of buildings at the University of Washington and Washington State University, the 37-story Seattle Federal Building (1974), the US Embassy building in Portugal (1979-1983), East Pine Street Substation (1966), the PACCAR Technical Facility at Mount Vernon, and the 62-story AT&T Gateway Tower (1981-1991).
Among Bassetti’s many professional leadership activities, he served on the Board of Allied Arts of Seattle, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, and the Seattle Design Commission. He also served as President of the Seattle Chapter of the AIA in 1967-1968 and was awarded to the college of Fellows in 1968. A recipient of the AIA Seattle Medal, Bassetti received recognition as an Academician of the National Institute of Design, and was nominated for the Pritzker Prize in 1989.
Bassetti passed away in Seattle on December 5, 2013.
-Michael C. Houser
Oral History Project: Fred Bassetti participated in Docomomo US/WEWA’s oral history project. He was interviewed in January 2008. A complete transcript of the interview can be downloaded on the left sidebar. Segments from the interview can be heard by clicking the audio files on the left sidebar.