Pacific Coast Architecture Database (PCAD)


Bassetti, Frederick

ID: 1554
Full Name: Frederick Forde Bassetti
Occupation: Architect
Gender: M
Nationality: US
Birth Date: 1917-01-31
Death Date: 2013-12-04
Family: Spouse: Bassetti married three times; he was married to Mary Wilson Bassetti, 1944-1971; his second wife was Moira Feeney Bassetti, with whom he was married 1971-1985; Bassetti's third wife, Gwenyth Piper Caldwell, he married in 1989. (Previous to marrying Bassetti in 1989, Gwen had married Theo Caldwell, a developer with whom Bassetti worked in the 1950s, in 1974.) (Information written in a letter dated 10/06/2009 from Mary Bassetti to Alan Michelson corrected the latter's errors in an earlier record. The author is grateful to her for the corrections.)
Parents: Born of a Norwegian mother, Sophie M. Forde (born c. 1891), and an Italian father, Frederick Michael Bassetti (b. 04/07/1887 in Turin, Italy), a newspaper correspondent and publisher, who operated the Italian language paper, Gazzetta Italiana. His father became a naturalized citizen in 1917 in Seattle, the year his son was born. His father's parents lived in Turin, where Bassetti visited in 1932-1933; he visited his paternal grandmother for nine months at this time, and remembered that he was enrolled in the fourth grade there at age 15. His mother came from Forde, Norway, a small town north of the coastal city of Bergen. Frederick M. and Sophie had three children: Yolanda (born c. 1914 in WA), Helen (born c. 1916 in WA) and Frederick Forde.
Children: Fred and Mary Wilson Bassetti had three daughters: Ann, Catherine and Margaret; he and Moira Feeney Bassetti had two children, Megan and Michael; Bassetti also has acted as a step-father to Gwen Piper Caldwell's 4 children from her first marriage, Megan, Ben, Piper and Sam, as well as a step-father to her five sons with whom she raised with Theo Caldwell. (Again, this information came from Mary Bassetti via correspondence to the author, 10/06/2009.)
Relocation: Born in Seattle, Bassetti grew up in Foster, WA, south of the city, now within the boundaries of Tukwila, WA. The area was known as Mortimer Heights, and Bassetti remembered it as rural and populated by many recent Italian immigrants. To learn more about his heritage, Bassetti lived for a year in Turin, during the deepest part of the Depression, 1932-1933, before his family transplanted itself to the Denny-Blaine Neighborhood of Seattle. He attended Garfield High School in Seattle finishing with the class of 1936, before matriculating at the University of Washington.
Biographical Information: Education: Bassetti graduated from Garfield High School, Seattle, WA; B.Arch., University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 1942; Bassetti entered the University of Washington (UW) thinking that he would study engineering; after performing poorly in engineering classes that first quarter of his freshman year, a classmate encouraged him to visit Architecture Hall. Bassetti was enchanted with the drawings arrayed on the walls, and went to speak to the Dean of the Department, Arthur P. Herrman (1898-1993). Both Herrman and another professor counseled him not to switch majors. He did anyway. M.Arch, Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, 1945-1946. At Harvard, Bassetti worked with the renowned Bauhaus architects, Walter Gropius (1883-1969) and Marcel Breuer (1902-1981), but felt that the latter was the better critic and teacher. Bassetti had the opportunity to work at the University of Pennsylvania c. 1945, where Louis I. Kahn (1901-1974) was developing a devoted student following.
Work History: Draftsman, Paul Thiry, Architect, Seattle, WA, 1944-1946; Draftsman, Alvar Aalto, Architect, Cambridge, MA, 1946; Designer, NBBJ Partnership, Seattle, WA, 10/1946-1947; Partner, Bassetti and [John] Morse, Architects, Seattle, WA, 1947-1962; Partner, Bassetti, Morse and Tatom, Architects, Honolulu, HI, c. 1962; Principal, Fred Bassetti and Company, Architects, Seattle, WA, 1962-1979; Partner, Bassetti/Norton/Metler/Rekevics Architects, Seattle, WA, 1979-1994; Founding Partner, Bassetti Architects, Seattle, WA, 1994-present; Bassetti retired from practice in 1994; by c. 2005, the firm was known simply as "Bassetti."
Teaching: Guest Critic, Columbia University, New York, NY; Bassetti lectured at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, Columbia University, New York, NY, Rice University, Houston, TX, and the Universities of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia (UBC).
Miscellaneous: In the summer of 1946, when the Head of the Harvard, Graduate School of Design, Walter Gropius, returned to Germany for the first time in ten years, Bassetti and his wife lived in the Gropius House in Lincoln, MA, house-sitting for 3 months. Bassetti worked for Alvar Aalto (1898-1976), working closely with the Finnish architect on the design of the Baker Dormitory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also assisted Aalto in New York, NY, on a small commission for James Johnson Sweeney (1900-1986), Head of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art (1945-1946), for museum furniture.
Professional Awards: College: Scholarship, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1944-1946;
Post College: Fellow, American Institute of Architects (FAIA), 1967; American Institute of Architects (AIA) Seattle Medallist, 1988; nominated for a Pritzker Prize from the Hyatt Foundation, Chicago, IL, 1989; Inductee, University of Washington, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Roll of Honor, 2007.
Countries: United States
Structures: 1411 4th Avenue Building, Downtown, Seattle, WA - 1929-1930 (4975)
4400 Fremont Avenue North Apartment Building, Fremont, Seattle, WA - 1951 (18877)
American Telephone and Telegraph Company (A, T and T), Gateway Tower, Downtown, Seattle, WA - 1990 (6029)
Armbruster, G.J., House, Lake Stevens, WA - 1948 (5192)
Benton County Public Utilities District, Office Building K - (10716)
Beyer Apartments, Fremont, Seattle, WA - 1978 (15886)
Birnbaum House, Hilltop, Bellevue, WA - 1953-1954 (10988)
Bullitt, Stimson and Katherine (Kay), House, Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA - 1955-1956 (14062)
Caldwell, Theodore, Tract Houses, Seattle, WA - 1951 (11668)
Central Washington College of Education, Library #2, Ellensburg, WA - 1960-1961 (16576)
Central Washington State College, Campus Plan, Ellensburg, WA - 1961 (10717)
Central Washington State College (CWSC), Bouillon Building, Ellensburg, WA - 1961 (16571)
Central Washington State College, Hitchcock Hall, Ellensburg, WA - 1965-1966 (11664)
City of Seattle, City Hall #4, Seattle, WA - 2003-2005 (4782)
City of Seattle, Parks and Recreation Department, Woodland Park, Zoo Master Plan #1, Seattle, WA - (13447)
City of Seattle, Woodland Park Zoo, Childrens' Zoo, Seattle, WA - (11663)
Dodd, Lloyd and Mary, House, Normandy Park, WA - 1950 (19023)
East Shore Unitarian Church, Bellevue, WA - 1956 (6419)
Forrest, Marshall, House, Bellingham, WA - 1952 (8028)
Gamma Rho Apartments, Fremont, Seattle, WA - 1950 (5574)
Harborview Medical Center, Campus, First Hill, Seattle, WA - 1931 (3642)
Hoover, Benjamin, House, Seattle, WA - 1956 (3831)
Isaacs, Walter F., House, Hilltop, Bellevue, WA - 1951-1952 (6418)
James, William, House, Ravenna, Seattle, WA - 1951 (10318)
KIRO Radio and TV Station #2, Seattle, WA - 1965 (10849)
Makah Cultural Center, Neah Bay, WA - (11666)
Martin, Gerald and Millicent, House, Seattle, WA - 1952-1953 (8027)
Mercer Island School District, Island Park Elementary School, Mercer Island, WA - 1957 (6420)
Mercer Island School District, Lakeridge Elementary School, Mercer Island, WA - 1953 (6417)
Mercer Island School District, Lakeview Elementary School, Mercer Island, WA - 1952 (11422)
Mercer Island School District, North Mercer Junior High School, Mercer Island, WA - 1961 (8029)
Norwood Village, 12123 SE 27th Street House, Bellevue, WA - 1950 (11062)
Norwood Village Houses, Bellevue, WA - 1950-1951 (11059)
O'Brien, John L., House, Seattle, WA - 1953 (15453)
PACCAR International, PACCAR Technical Facility, Mount Vernon, WA - (8915)
Scheffer, Victor and Beth, House, Hilltop, Bellevue, WA - 1951 (15444)
Seattle Aquarium, Seattle, WA - 1975-1976 (3079)
Seattle Commons Project, Seattle, WA - (13448)
Seattle Public Schools, Dearborn Park Elementary School, Seattle, WA - (8494)
Seattle Public Schools, Franklin, Benjamin, High School #2, Mount Baker, Seattle, WA - 1911-1912 (7118)
Seattle Public Schools, Roosevelt High School, Seattle, WA - (5310)
Seattle Public Utilities District, East Pine Street Substation, Seattle, WA - (11665)
Sunnyslope Homes Housing Development, Kennewick, WA - (14061)
Tacoma Union Station, Tacoma, WA - 1909-1911 (5275)
United States Air Force (USAF), McChord Air Force Base, Family Housing, McChord AFB, WA - 1957 (6421)
United States Department of State, U.S. Embassy, Lisbon, Portugal - 1977 (11662)
United States Government, Federal Office Building #3, Downtown, Seattle, WA - 1971-1974 (4657)
United States Navy (USN), Whidbey Island Naval Base, Housing, Whidbey Island, WA - 1961 (10718)
University of Washington, Seattle, Gates, Mary, Hall, Seattle, WA - 1928 (9567)
University of Washington, Seattle (UW), Engineering Library, Seattle, WA - 1969 (8753)
University of Washington, Seattle (UW), Loew, Edgar A., Hall, Seattle, WA - 1969 (8752)
University Professional Building, University District, Seattle, WA - 1954 (14284)
Washington State University (WSU), Avery Hall, Pullman, WA - 1971 (15212)
Western Washington State College, Bookstore, Bellingham, WA - 1960 (10714)
Western Washington State College, Ridgeway Dormitories, Bellingham, WA - 1964 (7405)
Western Washington State College (WWSC), Student Union, Bellingham, WA - 1957-1959 (10713)
Wood Block House, Mercer Island, WA - 1962 (17529)
Locations: Architect's Birth:
Seattle, WA
Architect's Death:
Portland, OR
Publications: "Bassetti, Fred", American Architects Directory 1956, 1st edition: 29, 1955.
American Architects Directory 1962, second edition: 38, 1962.
Steinbrueck, Peter, MacIntosh, Heather, "City Hall and the legacy of new public architecture", Arcade, 22: 2, 39, 2003.
"School buildings", Architectural Record, 116: 177-216, 11/1954.
"Churches: East Shore Unitarian Church, Bellevue, Wash.", Architectural Record, 122: 6, 186-189, 12/1957.
DOCOMOMO WeWA, Bellevue Modernism Tour Over the Bridge for Gracious Living, 17, 2003.
DOCOMOMO WeWA, Bellevue Modernism Tour Over the Bridge for Gracious Living, 18, 2003.
Schmechel, Donald A., Bassetti, Fred, Fred Bassetti, 1987.
Woodbridge, Sally, Montgomery, Roger, Guide to Architecture in Washington State, 142, 1980.
Woodbridge, Sally, Montgomery, Roger, Guide to Architecture in Washington State, 121, 1980.
Woodbridge, Sally, Montgomery, Roger, "Avery Hall", Guide to Architecture in Washington State, 423, 1980.
Woodbridge, Sally, Montgomery, Roger, Guide to Architecture in Washington State, 133-134, 1980.
Woodbridge, Sally, Montgomery, Roger, Guide to Architecture in Washington State An Environmental Perspective, 129, 1980.
Woodbridge, Sally, Montgomery, Roger, Guide to Architecture in Washington State An Environmental Perspective, 129, 1980.
Woodbridge, Sally, Montgomery, Roger, "Bouillon Building, 1961", Guide to Architecture in Washington State: An Environmental Perspective, 372, 1980.
Woodbridge, Sally, Montgomery, Roger, "Library, 1960-1961", Guide to Architecture in Washington State: An Environmental Perspective, 373, 1980.
Woodbridge, Sally, Montgomery, Roger, "Meisner, Sparks, Hitchcock, Quigley, and Beck Halls, 1965-66", Guide to Architecture in Washington State: An Environmental Perspective, 373, 1980.
Bassetti, Frederick F., Harborview Medical Center Comprehensive Plan: Phase One, Inventory, Program & Schematic Plan, 1971.
"Norwood Village : built by teamwork", House and Home, 2: 88-93, 1952-09.
"4. The low-cost house sells to a large special market: young and moderate-income families", House and Home, 2: 3, 101, 09/1952.
"Newslines: Seven Win HUD Design Awards; 350 Entries", Journal of the American Institute of Architects, 46: 5, 13, 16, 11/1966.
Bassetti, Fred, "Derf Struck Dumb", Journal of the American Institute of Architects, 46: 2, 85, 88, 08/1966.
"How a group of determined Seattle veterans overcame obstacles to build their own community, Norwood Village", Living for Young Homemakers, 82-87, 09/1952.
Bassetti, Frederick F., Ruchlis, Hyman , Math Projects: Polyhedral Shapes, 1968.
Eckardt, Wolf Von, "Bassetti & Morse", Mid-Century Architecture in America, 203, 1961.
"Seattle Aquarium", Process Architecture, 96, 122-127, 06/1991.
Nabbefeld, Joe, "Drawing new strategy", Puget Sound Business Journal, 18, 10/22/1999.
"Etc. campus news and notes Architecturer honors", University Week, 25: 9, 3, 11/29/2007.
Nyren, Ron, "ULX Lessons from Schools", Urban Land, 44-48, 08/2007.

Portrait of Fred Bassetti, State of Washington architectural registration photo, c. 1947; from