Carl A. Bystrom

Fellow | AIA

Bystrom, Carl A.

(1927 – 2017)

Born June 8, 1927, in Seattle, Carl Arnold Bystrom began his studies at the University of Washington in the Aeronautical Engineering program. With his studies interrupted by World War II, Bystrom began to rethink his career choice and, upon his return to Seattle in 1947, he re-enrolled at the University, this time in architecture. Bystrom graduated summa cum laude with an AIA Student Silver Medal for excellence in design in 1951. Upon graduation, he went to work as a steel detailer for the Seidelhuber Iron & Bronze Works in Seattle. He also received his state architect’s license in 1951.

In 1953, Bystrom took a four-month trip to Europe to study firsthand the buildings he had learned about in school. Upon his return he went to work for architect Paul Thiry. While there, he moonlighted on the side, completing the Howard Whittlesley House (1953) and E.C. Grubbe House (1955), both in Seattle. In 1957, Bystrom left Thiry’s office and began working for the firm of Decker & Christiansen.

The following year, he opened his own practice with former classmate and fellow Thiry draftsman, James Greco. The firm burst onto the architectural scene with a Seattle Times/AIA “Home of the Year,” the Carsten Lien House in 1957. The recognition brought other work to the firm including projects such as the Michael Adams House, the Frank Anderson House (1959), F. Deckebach House (1959), Roberston Dental Clinic & Duplex (1959), the H.P. White Apartments (1959), the Sandpoint Country Club (1960), and the Century Building (1964). Bystrom designed several buildings for restaurateur Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus chain. Several of the aforementioned projects were featured in local, regional and national magazines including Sunset, Progressive Architecture, Architecture West and Interiors, and many received design awards. Amidst all of this, in 1959 Bystrom was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington, but resigned in 1961 to concentrate on his growing architectural practice. The two remained partners, sharing an office with landscape architect William Teufel until 1967.

Upon their departure, Bystrom was awarded a lucrative contract to rework several buildings within the Seattle Parks system as part of the Forward Thrust bond project. His reworking of the bathhouses at Seward Park, Madrona and Green Lake brought him several honors and awards, as well as additional projects and clients. Additional projects include the Blue Six (1970) and Jack Simpson Condominiums (1973) in Ketchum, Idaho, his own beach cabin (1970), and remarkable Dennis House (1983) in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Over the years, Bystrom earned over 30 design awards, including two National AIA honors. In 1985 he was elected to the AIA College of Fellows. Over the years he served in a variety of boards and commissions including the Seattle Planning Commission, Allied Arts of Seattle, the National AIA Design Committee and the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board. He also served as President of the AIA, Seattle Chapter, in 1983.

Bystrom was a founding member of the Pike Place Market Historical Commission and was instrumental in saving the market from the wrecking ball.

Bystrom resided in Seattle in the 1888 A.G. Bower House he bought in 1962 until he passed away on August 10, 2017.

– Michael C Houser

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