Felice M. Campanella

Campanella, Felice M.

(1930 – 1999)

Italian–American immigrant Felice “Felix” Martin Campanella was born in Roccella Ionica, Italy, on September 10, 1930. Destined to become an artist, he became a protégé of a local Italian painter at age of ten. The pending war, however, forced his family to flee Italy and they immigrated to the United States. Eventually, by 1942 the family settled had in Seattle.

After graduating from Seattle’s Garfield High School in 1948, Campanella attended the University of Washington, graduating with a B.A. in Architecture in 1953. A talented student, he gave up a Fulbright Scholarship to study art in Italy so he could work in Seattle to support his widowed mother. While in school he served as a draftsman for NBBJ (1951), and designed homes for the Pan Abode Cedar Company (1952-53).

For a short time he worked as a designer for Consolidated Services Inc., and then formed a partnership with fellow Consolidated Services employee, David Johnston, in Seattle in 1954. Together the Johnston-Campanella firm would have great success in the Puget Sound area, particularly on the east side of Lake Washington. One of their first major projects was to prepare plans for a 150-acre regional shopping center for the Maingate Development Co. in Renton. They firm decided to move to the firm to Renton in 1956.

Their supermarket design for the Renton Market Basket Supermarket (1958) garnered the firm the first National AIA award for supermarket design (1959). The all steel building was dramatically lit inside and out and had painted scenes on the interior walls. Other supermarkets followed including the Market Basket in Yakima (c 1962) and Foodland Shopping Center in Fairbanks. Alaska (1961).

It was their dramatic project for the Renton Civic Center (planned in 1964), however, that brought them much acclaim. First constructed was the Library (1966), which spanned across the 80’ wide Cedar River. The design allowed the land to be conserved for a parking lot. A $1.3 million dollar multi-story city hall building followed (1968).

The firm also took on a variety of religious structures including Kirkland’s Holy Family Catholic Church and School (1958), Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School & Convent in Riverton-Boulevard Park (1960), St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Ballard (1962), St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Education Unit (1961) in Renton, Our Lady of Guadalupe School (1962, one of the first pre-stressed concrete buildings in the west Seattle area), the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection Parish Hall (1962) in Lake Hills neighborhood of Bellevue, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Parish Hall (1964) in Issaquah, and Fairwood Community United Methodist Church (1973) in Renton.

Other notable projects included the Valencia Apartments (1960), Renton Airport Control Tower (c. 1965), Renton Inn (1965), Seattle-King County Civil Defense Emergency Center (1966), Cedar Hills Alcoholic Rehab Center (1966), King County Library-Maple Valley Branch (1968), National Bank of Commerce (1970) in Kent, Tony Go’s Restaurant (1972) in Renton, Walton Industrial Building (1973) in Lynnwood, King County Library (1975) Branch in Snoqualmie, and Land Title Associate Building (1977) in Bremerton.

The firm also designed a variety of schools, many with unusual roof forms and floor plans. Projects include Cascade Elementary School (1961 and an addition in 1968) in Renton, Maplewood Heights Elementary School (1967), Renton Park Elementary School (1965), Renton Technical College (c.1967), Sierra Heights Elementary School (1969), Earlington Elementary School (1972) in Renton, Sharon Drive Elementary School (1973) in Mukilteo, Snoqualmie Middle School (1973) in North Bend, Bryn Mawr Elementary School addition (1972) in Renton, and Central Elementary School (1974) in Sedro-Wooley.

With the firm growing by leaps and bounds, in 1962 Robert S. Burns became a partner and the firm’s named was changed to “Johnston, Campanella & Co.” Terry Murakami was added to the firm in 1966 and was changed again to “Johnson, Campanella, Murakami & Co.” Burns left the partnership in the late in 1960s and Charles Brummitt was added (1969).

Campanella was active in a variety of professional and social organizations including the Kiwanis, the Knights of Columbus and Toastmasters International. He was also a founding member of Allied Arts of Renton.

In 1973 the Italian government, via its Seattle consulate, awarded Campanella the honorary title of “Cavaliere” (the equivalent of knighthood) for his zealous promotion of Italian culture.

With business going well, in 1978 Campanella opened a real-estate, development firm called CMB Development Corp. Among their known projects are the Evergreen Industrial Center in Woodinville (1980), 1300 University Street Condominium on First Hill in Seattle (1980), and Pacific Heights Office Center (1982) in Bellevue.

Campanella left his architectural practice in 1981 and retired in 1989. He passed away in Renton on January 31, 1999.

– Michael C Houser


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