Audrey Van Horne

Van Horne, Audrey

(1924 – )

Audrey (Jupp) Van Horne was born on April 18, 1924 in New York City and grew up in New Jersey. She attended the Hartridge School and later, enrolled in the School of Architecture at the University of Michigan (1942-1944). She later transferred to the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University studying under Walter Gropius and graduated in 1947 with a Master in Architecture. 

While at Harvard she met her future husband and business partner, John Van Horne. Upon graduation they married, marking the beginning of a life together in the world of design, painting, and photography. While in school they worked for the New York City architecture firm of Nemeny & Geller, and then for the firm of Raymond & Rado. Seeking new adventures, in 1948, the Van Hornes decided to relocated to Seattle.

On arrival in Seattle John worked for Paul Thiry and later for Bassetti & Morse. Audrey’ initially focused on taking care of their growing family. Her interest in education led her to developing, with a friend, the “Choice Program” in their children’s school. The program provided the opportunity for parents to teach classes once a week. For a number of years Audrey also taught an “Introduction to Construction“ course at Edmonds Community College. 

In 1951 John decided to established his own independent firm. Five years later in 1956, Audrey joined the firm and it became Van Horne & Van Horne Architects. Their initial work was largely residential. The first houses the firm designed were in the Hilltop Community south of Bellevue and include the Smith House (1952) and the Prechek House (1954). Another early residence was for Sidney and Marica Abrams on Mercer Island (1958) which included painting studio and gallery space. Larger projects in the 1950s and early 1960s included the First Unitarian Church (1960) in Des Moines and several Imperial 400 Motels (1961, modeled after prototype by Palmer & Krisel).

In 1966, Van Horne & Van Horne were hired to do a variety of projects for the Seattle Public School District.  These included fire safety and seismic improvement for several of the older school buildings. Work in the 1960s also included low-income housing projects with Seattle developer Norward Brooks and with Federal Housing Administration. Throughout the years there were other multifamily projects, dealing with code changes, providing for the elderly, and preserving some of the older stock of buildings. 

Also in the 1970s, the firm worked with the owner of Hidden Valley Camp (outside of Granite Falls) to improve the facilities and design a new lodge that was built close to the forest and constructed with local materials. They also worked on major renovations of buildings at the University of Washington, including the new Computer Science Lab in Sieg Hall (1974) and space for the Philosophy Department in Savery Hall (1975). In 1971 the firm renovated a space for the Pottery Northwest studios and teaching center (1974). 

In the 1980s the firm became a woman-owned business with Audrey owning 51% of the business. As a WBE (Women Business Enterprise), the firm expanded its range of projects including designing the expansion of the Hippo Viewing Area (1981) and an extensive remodeling of the Tropical/Nocturnal House (1985) at the Woodland Park Zoo. Projects with the Parks Department continued in the 1990s with the renovation of the Conservatory (1993) at Volunteer Park. The wood frame building had deteriorated due to very high humidity and the structure was reconstructed in aluminum replicating the original wood design.  

The firm of Van Horne & Van Horne officially closed in 2008. Today, Audrey continues to actively follow new needs in design and planning that incorporate and respect the environment and resides in the Seattle home that she and John designed and built for themselves in 1953. 

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