(1920 – 2013)
From the quiet corner of Mt. Vernon, Washington, Henry Klein consistently produced some of the region’s most admired architecture over a career spanning more than fifty years.
Born and raised in the small hamlet of Cham, Germany, Klein was educated in Switzerland before transferring to Cornell University where he received his BA in 1943. Upon graduation he worked for a variety of firms in New York before moving to Portland, Oregon in 1948 where he was employed in the office of Pietro Belluschi. Wanting to branch out on his own, at the age of 32, Klein decided to move to Mount Vernon and founded his own firm in 1952. At the time, the architectural office was the first full service architectural firm in Skagit County.
One of Klein’s first major projects in Mt. Vernon was the downtown library (1956), which received high accolades in the architectural community and was featured in Architectural Record. Other notable projects include the Ellis House (1962) on Shaw Island, Swinomish Tribal Center (1965) in La Conner (National Award of Merit USHUD); the Skagit County Administration Building (1977), the Nash and Mathes Residential Halls (1967) at Western Washington University (WWU) in Bellingham, and the Performing Arts Center also at WWU. In 1970, Klein worked with Peter Bilder Inc. of Lynwood to create a modular home called “the PONCHO”.
Later work included a series of libraries in Kent (1991), Eastsound (1992) and at Mount Vernon High School (1991). Klein also completed a remodel of a small downtown commercial space in La Conner into the Museum of Northwest Art (1997).
When colleagues David Hall and Lowell Larsen joined the firm as partners in 1978, the firm was renamed The Henry Klein Partnership. In 1981, Klein was inducted into the AIA College of Fellows. Six years later, his colleagues recognized his influence on Northwest architecture by awarding Klein the AIA Seattle Medal.
Klein retired in 2004 after 52 years of practice and passed away on March 5, 2013. His firm continues today under the HKP name.
– Michael C Houser