Dietz, Robert H.
(1912 – 2006)
Born on January 26, 1912 in Crofton, Nebraska, Robert Henry Dietz moved to Seattle with his family at the age of seven, and graduated from O’Dea High School in 1929. After his graduation from the University of Washington (BArch 1941), he received a scholarship to attend MIT (MArch 1944). He went on to hold a position in the office of National Defense Research Council at Princeton University, representing this division in bomb analysis during the war years.
He entered into professional practice in Cambridge working for Martin Beck in Princeton and Anderson & Beckwith in Cambridge, before returning to Seattle in 1947. Upon moving back to Seattle he worked for a variety of architectural firms including Paul Hayden Kirk, Edgar Johnson, and J. Lister Holmes (1947-52) before opening his own firm. Dietz, as an independent designer, was awarded the Seattle AIA Chapter’s first honor award for the design of the Jack Wolf House on Mercer Island in 1950. In 1952, he formed a partnership with fellow architect Lawrence Waldron (1952-67). The firm was recognized for its outstanding work by the local chapter of the AIA with five additional honor awards and one merit award over the next seven years.
Beginning in 1947, Dietz taught in the University of Washington Department of Architecture, and in 1958, achieved the rank of Professor. In 1962, he succeeded Arthur Herrman as Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Under his leadership, the College saw major expansions with the founding of three new departments (Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture and Building Construction) and the transformation of the professional degree in Architecture from an undergraduate to a graduate level.
Noted projects by Waldron & Dietz include Emmanuel Episcopal Church (1960 – Seattle AIA Honor Award) on Mercer Island, the Taskett Agency Office Building (1955 – Seattle AIA Honor Award) in Seattle, and a sunroom addition to the University of Washington Presidents House. The firm specialized in schools and received note in several architectural journals regarding these projects. Among their best-known schools are Woodway Elementary School (1956- Seattle AIA Honor Award) and Edmonds High School (1959 – Seattle AIA Merit Award) in Edmonds, Chinook Jr. High School (1958) and Normandy Park Elementary School (1954) in Seattle, Meridian Jr. High School (1958) and Covington Elementary School (1961) in Kent, and Olympic View Jr. High School (1957 – Seattle AIA Honor Award) in Mulkiteo.
Dietz served on the Design Standards Advisory Committee for the Seattle World’s Fair and was President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. He also served on the National Architectural Accrediting Board (1960-66) and served as its president in 1964, traveling around the country to assess college architecture departments. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Dietz to the National Commission on Architectural Barriers to improve disabled access.
In 1965, Dietz was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows for his distinguished contributions to the profession. He retired in 1980 and moved to Arizona, where he died on May 8, 2006, at the age of 94.
– Michael C Houser