Fred Bassetti

library reading room, ca. 1940-42.

Fred Bassetti

Sketch problem: gouache/watercolor on paper with matting.

Digital Collection item #ARC0877; URL:,1839

Fred Bassetti (1917-) studied engineering for a year before switching to architecture, earning a B.Arch from the University of Washington (1942). During World War II, he worked as a draftsman with the Federal Public Housing Authority and with Seattle architect Paul Thiry. After the war he studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Design under Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, was in the same class as I.M. Pei, and graduated with a Masters of Architecture (1946).

Fred Bassetti belongs to the "Northwest School": the collective drivers behind the new regional identity that began to emerge in the late 1940s, that included Arne Bystrom, Wendell Lovett, Gene Zema, and Ralph Anderson. Key features of the Northwest School's work are the influence of the Pacific Northwest climate and landscape on modern design, materials selection, and a legacy of environmental responsibility. Concrete and steel are hallmarks of modernism, but in the Pacific Northwest there was also a passion for natural materials.

Bassetti completed an apprenticeship with Paul Thiry (1944-46); was draftsman for Alvar Aalto, Architect, Cambridge, MA (1946); and designer for Naramore, Bain, Brady & Johanson (NBBJ) Partnership, Seattle (1946-47). He formed an architectural partnership with John Morse (1947-62). They designed notable and award-winning works including Lakeview Elementary School, Mercer Island (1954); Mercer Island High School, (1958); G.J. Armbruster home, Lake Stevens; Gerald Martin house (1954); Marshall Forrest Residence, Bellingham (1953); Walter F. Isaacs House, Hilltop, (1953). Bassetti formed his own firm, Fred Bassetti and Company, Architects, in Seattle (1962-79).

The firm expanded and in 1982 changed its name to Bassetti/Norton/Metler/Rekevics Architects. Notable projects of the firm include the Children's Park at Woodland Park Zoo, the Seattle Federal Building (1974); the United States Embassy in Portugal (1979-83); the Pine Street Substation (1986); AT&T Gateway Tower (1990). Bassetti became a founding member of the firm Bassetti Architects before his retirement in 1994.

Bassetti's teaching career included positions as a guest critic at Columbia University, lecturing at Columbia University, MIT, Rice University, and the Universities of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia. He was involved with Allied Arts of Seattle, the Seattle Landmarks Commission, as well as the creator of Action: Better City in the late 1960s.