Born on May 12, 1921 in Bellingham, Washington, George R. Bartholick, Jr. graduated from Bellingham High School in 1939, and began his architectural studies at the University of Washington. During WWII he left school to serve in the Army Air Corps where he flew B-24 Liberator bombers as a navigator. He returned to his studies in 1945, and enrolled in the architecture school at the University of Oregon. After receiving his degree in 1950 he practiced architecture in Holland, Sweden, and Switzerland. While in Europe, his study of local architecture and urban planning led to his distinct “Bartholick” style; harmonizing a structure’s design with its surrounding landscape.
After returning to Bellingham in 1956, Bartholick designed many small commercial, residential, and public projects, primarily in northern Washington state. His first residential work was a small Modern cedar clad house he designed and built for his mother, Ruth Bartholick in 1957. In the early 1970’s he moved his office, G.R. Bartholick, Architect and Planner, to Seattle where he collaborated on several major projects with fellow architects Ibsen Nelson and Fred Bassetti.
Bartholick is best known for his larger projects which focused on remodeling existing structures and the planning of future additions, rather than the construction of new buildings. His work on the restoration of Pike Place Market (1974-1980) is perhaps his best known work. He compared the project to restoring a mountain meadow so that if the work “is done well, no one is aware of the presence of new hands.”
Other notable projects include Western Washington State College/University Long Term Planning and the rehabilitation of the main Administration Building (1963-1979), Whatcom Museum remodel (1963-1977), master plan for Woodland Park Zoo (1969-1974), and the Fairhaven Revitalization plan (1979-1980). Bartholick’s planning skills were reflected in his role as the campus planner for Western Washington University (WWU) in Bellingham. Most noteworthy is the architectural and sculptural layout of Red Square at WWU.
In 1993, he began serving as an instructor in Architectural Design and Planning at the University of Guanajuato, Mexico. In 1995, he was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows.
Bartholick passed away in Bellingham on August 31, 1998. His collection of drawing and papers are found at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies at Western Washington University.
Adapted from Center for PNW Studies bio - February 2007