(1920 – 2001)
Born and raised in Minnesota, Lyle Swedberg graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in architecture in 1942. Upon graduation, he was drafted and served in the Army Construction Division from 1942 to 1945. After the war, Swedberg took a job at the Tacoma construction firm of Ketner Bros, Inc. Then in 1947 he landed his first architectural job at a firm, serving as a draftsman for the Tacoma architectural firm of Mock & Morrison. He remained with the firm for just a year before opening his own independent practice.
Swedberg’s projects ranged from small modest homes to multi-story condominium projects, to churches and community colleges. His early designs include Beckstead’s Red & White Grocery Store (1949); Concordia Lutheran School (1950); the Dr. George Loring Dental Office (1950); the Broadview Apartments (1951); Pierce County Fire Hall Dist No.3 (1952); the Prudential Insurance Co. (1953); and the First Unitarian Church (1958), all in Tacoma. Pushing the architectural envelope in the small eastern Washington town of Endicott, Swedberg provided a modern Miesian box for Dr. John Hardy’s Medical Clinic in 1954.
However it was Swedberg’s 1958 design for the Redi-Gas Co. Building in Parkland that put his practice on the map. The project received critical acclaim in several local and regional publications including Pacific Architect & Builder. The 8,000 sq ft building utilized five 11’ x 4’ “Panelbilt” plywood barrel arches, housing a showroom, office, warehouse and shop, featured walnut faced plywood, and removable interior walls.
Other notable projects include the Campus plan and several structures at Tacoma Community College (1966-1968); the Highland Hills Shopping Center (1956); Frontier Village Shopping Center (1955) in Federal Way; Graham Square Shopping Center (1983) in Graham; University Village Shopping Center (1967) in University Place; Newport Hills Shopping Center (1963) in Bellevue; Olympic Shopping Center (1962) in Gig Harbor; and the Forest Village Shopping Center (1967) in Enumclaw.
In the late 1970s, Swedberg’s son, John, a then recent graduate of Washington State University’s architecture program, joined the firm. Later projects included the Sprinker Recreation Center (1975) in Parkland; the Le-Mer Condominiums (1979), and One Stadium Way North Condominiums (1973) in Tacoma, which was touted as the tallest building of grouted concrete on the West Coast at the time of its completion.
Swedberg retired in mid-1980s and passed away in Tacoma on October 10, 2001.
– Michael C Houser