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April 3, 2013
Seattle architect Kenn W. Rupard died of natural causes at his home in mid-March. He was 71.
Michele Sainte-Starbuck, an architect with CollinsWoerman, said Rupard had a passion for design, from large-scale urban planning to the most intimate architectural detail.
“He was really talented,” said Sainte-Starbuck, who became Rupard's friend after meeting him at a colleague's wedding 25 years ago.
Rupard designed a number of projects for Conner Homes, including a 24-unit condo complex on 81st Place Southeast on Mercer Island; The Greenlake, a 100-unit condo complex at Northeast 70th and Woodlawn; and The Verandas, an 18-unit condo on Queen Anne. The Verandas received two Gold MAME awards from the Master Builders Association.
Paul Pierce, a project manager/designer at Playhouse Design Group, said Rupard was proud of a small townhouse project he designed at 13th and Republican on Capitol Hill. Pierce worked with Rupard, and said he had a talent for blending architecture with good urban planning.
For instance, Rupard designed an apartment complex near the south side of the Ballard Bridge, and half the project was on one side of the street and half was on the other. Rupard joined the two by putting a courtyard with half-circles on either side of the street. “It felt like the street was part of the apartment complex,” Pierce said.
Rupard earned a bachelor's in architecture from the University of Washington in the 1960s. Pierce said that while he was at school, Rupard worked for Richard Haag, a landscape architect renowned for his work on Gas Works Park in Seattle, and considered becoming a landscape architect.
Rupard pursued graduate studies at Harvard Graduate School of Design, and earned a master's in urban design and architecture from Columbia University, Sainte-Starbuck said.
She said Rupard began his design career with Piano & Rogers in Paris, where he relished the lifestyle and became fluent in French. She said Rupard worked for six years on the Centre Pompidou, gaining the respect and confidence of his two influential mentors, Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers.
Rupard returned to New York and joined the firm of Cooper Eckstut Associates. Sainte-Starbuck said that, under the wing of Stan Eckstut, he worked as lead urban designer on the acclaimed 25-acre Battery Park development in Manhattan, fulfilling a professional aspiration and gaining a new lifelong mentor in Eckstut.
Rupard was born in Forks.
He returned to Seattle in the mid-1980s and got a job with LMN, and then founded a small design firm in Pioneer Square with two colleagues, Sainte-Starbuck said.
In the early 1990s Rupard established Rupard Architecture & Urban Design in Pike Place Market.
His work ranged from mixed-use urban projects in Seattle and Bellevue, to apartment and condos, to custom homes on Lake Washington and Bainbridge Island.
Sainte-Starbuck described Rupard as somewhat of a Modernist, and said he loved the timeless aspects of architecture and materials and design principles.
This was especially apparent in his custom homes, she said, where he was careful about everything, from siting, to approaches, to the proper framing of views.
On larger projects, he was good at adding value by using the zoning code to maximize development and creating efficient yet functional layouts, she said.
Pierce McVey, an architect with Mahlum, met Rupard in the mid 1980s while they were doing contract work for a small Seattle residential firm.
He said Rupard was a very engaged architect who mentored others.
He was generous with his time, and opinionated about architecture “good and bad,” McVey said.
“He was very concerned about the whole street experience and such,” McVey said. “So projects that did that well — stressed the pedestrian experience — he was in favor of, and very critical of the ones that ignored that.”
Sainte-Starbuck said Rupard lived and worked in Hillclimb Court, and was a fixture at Pike Place Market.
“Anyone who had a booth in the market pretty much knew him,” she said. “He never cooked. He always ate out.”
He could be seen morning and evening, with his English setters strolling the market, Myrtle Edwards Park, and his beloved Ballard/Shilshole Beach, she said.
He is survived by his godson, Jonah Ross, and longtime friends.
A memorial service is planned but no date has been set.
Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.