Carolyn Geise FAIA

AIA Seattle Medal 2001

Carolyn Geise FAIA (BArch UW '63) has advanced the social and economic power of architecture in a unique professional lifetime, in her practice as well as in extensive community activities.

In a career combining special achievements as an architect, as a developer, and as a community organizer, Carolyn Geise has exemplified ideals of ethical practice and service to society. A professional activist since her architecture student days, when she (along with Jane Hastings) staffed the AIA booth at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, Carolyn Geise has served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Washington Board of Registration for Architects and as a member of the AIA's national Ethics Council.

In recognition of the effectiveness of her contributions to the profession, her colleagues presented her with AIA Seattle's highest honor, the AIA Seattle Medal, in 2001.

Of special note, she has devoted the last decade to the design and re-creation of a unique human and natural community environment in Seattle's Belltown, the much-admired Growing Vine Street project. In May 2005, the Seattle City Council proclaimed May 2005 as "Carolyn Geise Neighborhood Month," and designated the plaza at the top of the Cistern Steps in Belltown as CAROLYN GEISE PLAZA.

She worked in partnership with Jane Hastings FAIA in one of Seattle's pioneer woman-owned design firms, and established her own firm, now known as Geise Architects, in 1978. She has held several key committee and elective offices at AIA Seattle, including chairing the AIA Seattle Housing Action Task Force in 1998, whose work effectively informed then-Mayor Paul Schell Hon. AIA's Housing Action Agenda and gave the design community a substantial role in this important civic initiative.

Her practice encompasses a wide variety of work including notable residential design and facilities for special user groups such as homeless women and emotionally disturbed children. Her community-focused work includes creative efforts in public-private financing and pioneering work with neighborhood planning -- for instance acting as both developer and architect in the reclamation of a 1914 factory building in the Denny Regrade. This successful project, the 81 Vine Building, has garnered considerable critical and public attention, becoming a keystone for Carolyn's activism in the Denny Regrade and the Growing Vine Street Project -- a planning effort to reclaim a residential street as a pedestrian-focused linear park of nature and art.  Carolyn's major contribution as a Regrade citizen, architect, and property owner has had a unique influence on the growth explosion in Seattle's premiere downtown residential neighborhood.

In another recent adventure (2006), Carolyn has created a unique retreat center and alpaca farm on Whidbey Island, Maxwelton Aerie.

Her advancement to the AIA College of Fellows in 1989 – as the only woman architect among 44 architects in the nation to achieve this honor that year – recognized her public service, her service to the profession, and the inspiration her professional achievement continues to provide to the ever-increasing number of women aspiring to success in the design professions.  Norman Johnston FAIA sponsored her nomination.

References:
*"Designing Women: Female Architects Have Worked Hard to Build Their Careers" (The Seattle Times 1990)
*"Architect Solves Design Puzzles - A Conversation with Carolyn Geise" (The Seattle Times 1993)
*"Natural Home Earth Mover: Carolyn Geise" (Mother Earth Living, 2003)