Johnson, Steve D.
(1931 – 2005)
Born August 3, 1931, in Jamestown, New York, Steve D. Johnson received his formal architectural education from the University of Colorado. In 1957, he earned a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering, followed by a second bachelor’s degree in architecture the next year.
Upon graduation, Johnson returned to New York and worked for a variety of architectural firms in Buffalo and New York City before moving to the Pacific Northwest in order to take a job at Boeing. Further experience was gained by working with Tacoma architect Robert B. Price, who, at the time, was busy designing several structures at the Seattle World’s Fair. After the fair, in 1962 Johnson formed a lasting partnership in Olympia with fellow architect, G. Stacey Bennett.
Together, the firm of Bennett & Johnson had a profound impact on the built environment in Olympia in the second half of the 20th century. Notable projects included the L.P. Brown Elementary School (1965), multi-story Capitol Center Building (1966), Washington Association of Industries Building (1967), Washington State Employees Credit Union (1967), Olympia Federal Savings & Loan (1967, 1978), Pioneer Elementary School (1969), and the Thurston County Courthouse (1977).
Johnson worked closely with Olympia developers Jim Dutton and Virgil Adams to develop the Holiday Hills neighborhood in Olympia. Johnson also created a host of small shopping centers along the West Coast with developer Mo Loveless.
In 1964, Robert Slenes and Frank Smith joined the firm and it was renamed “The BJSS Group” in 1983. After several mergers, today it is known as “Ambia.” Johnson retired from the practice in 1995 and left Olympia in 1996. He passed away in Sunriver, Oregon, at the age of 74 on December 20, 2005.
– Michael C Houser