Harmon, Craig A.
(1911 – 1976)
Seattle architect Craig A. Harmon was born in Redfield, South Dakota on December 10, 1911. He received his engineering degree from the University of Denver (1932-1935) and an architecture degree from the University of Nebraska (1938). After college, Harmon formed a short-lived partnership with architect Arthur Hehnke in Nebraska (Hehnke & Harmon). He then moved to Detroit (1941-1942) and took a job as supervising architect with the large architectural firm of Smith, Hinchman & Gyrlls (one of the oldest operating architectural firms in the country). Wanting additional experience, Harmon then moved to Fort Worth, Texas, and became a designer for architect Wyatt C. Henrick (1943). His stay in Texas was short, and for reasons unknown he moved west in 1943 and took a job at Boeing Airplane Company as a plant engineer (1943-1946). While at Boeing, Harmon became friends with Roland Pray and fellow engineer Robert Detrich, and, in 1946, the three decided to form their own firm: Harmon, Pray & Detrich, Architects & Engineers.
Heavily focused on master planning and engineering, with expertise in utilizing precast building components and pre-stressed structural members, the firm received many large, complex corporate and governmental commissions over a 30-year time span. Their success can be measured by the size of the firm, which had grown to over 30 draftsmen by 1960.
Early work included the 300,000 square-foot Boeing Aerospace offices, laboratories, warehouse, which at the time of its construction was the largest building in the world at the time using pre-stressed beams and girders (1955). Other known projects included the Seattle Labor Temple (1955), headquarters for Puget Power Co. (1957) in Bellevue, and numerous subsequent switching stations and line headquarters for the utility scattered around the Puget Sound, Operating Engineers Local 302 Building (1958) in Seattle, Washington State University’s Fulmer Hall addition (1961), Aqua Club, Incorporated, (1960) in Kenmore, Smitty’s Pancake House (ca. 1963), Four Freedoms House retirement home (1964) in Seattle, Snohomish County Courthouse addition (1964) in Everett, and Snohomish County District Court, in Lynnwood, (1969). A particularly well-known design was for Sieg Hall (1960) at the University of Washington, distinguished by its precast gothic tracery, which was featured in Pacific Architect & Builder and Architectural Forum.
Two of the firm’s most notable designs were the Power Control Center for Seattle City Light (1963), and the King County Administration Building (1971). Located at the base of Queen Anne in Seattle, the octagonal Power Control Center boasts a near windowless cast concrete sculptural form, while the County Administration building utilized a ridged bronze aluminum triangular grid curtain wall.
Master planning projects included the Valhalla neighborhood (1959), Aurora North Master plan (a 63-acre development, 1969), and award-winning Kent Valley Industrial Park plan (1968). Harmon, Pray and Detrick conceived the master plan for the East Capitol Campus expansion in Olympia, which afforded the firm subsequent designs for the Employment Security Building (1962), the Highway & Licenses Building (1962), and the State Archives Building (1963).
Harmon, who also maintained a firm of his own, developed with his son, Mark, and Robert Detrich, the Admiral’s Cove on Whidbey Island which was billed as the second largest vacation community in United States at the time of its development in 1967-1969.
Harmon, a licensed engineer, was also an avid golfer and founded the Pacific Coast Golf Association. He was also a former director of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association, a committee member for the Junior Golf Foundation for the Western Washington Chapter of the US Golf Association, and Past-President of the Inglewood Golf Club.
The firm dissolved in 1975 and Harmon passed away the following year in Seattle on May 13, 1976.
– Michael C Houser