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John C. O'Brien

Seattle architect John Cecil O’Brien was born on May 14, 1916 in McCloud, California.  Raised in the Los Angeles area, O’Brien’s formal architectural training was limited to studying industrial design at the Arts Center School in Los Angeles and a correspondence course in engineering, however he had six years as a draftsman before applying for his Washington State architectural license in 1944.

O’Brien arrived in the Seattle area during WWII, where he served as a principle engineering aid for the USEO (1943-44).  By 1948 he had opened his own architectural firm and remained in private practice until 1969.  During most of that time he shared an office with fellow architect Raymond Peck, whom he occasionally collaborated with.

His first known design is for a modest builder home at 4847 Kenny Street (1949) in the Upland Neighborhood of Seattle.  His home design for William P. Butler (1955) brought him much attention and further commissions such as several builder homes in Salt Air Hills neighborhood (1958) for Rigby Construction Co. and a design for the 1957 Parade of Home House in Rancho Vista neighborhood in the community of Seatac.

Rendering for the Paul Revere Life Insurance Co. Bldg - Seattle Daily Times, July 20, 1958.O’Brien’s designs show distinct articulation of their structural framing and interior plans on the exterior facades.  He developed a specialty for apartment buildings.  Designs include the Queen Villa Apartments (1955 with Raymond Peck); View Apartments (1957); apartment complex at 10th Ave & John Street (1958); Chateau Apartments (1963); Taylor Towers (1960); Village Green Apartments (1967) in Kent; and the Casa del Sol Condominiums (1969) in Bellevue. 

Over the course of his career, O’Brien designed several projects for builder/developer Delmar Noonan including the Ediphone Co. & Standard Register Building (1956); the Retail Credit Co. Building (1957); the Valleho Apartments (1958); and the Bluff Apartments (1959).

Other project include the Paul Revere Life Insurance Building (1958); Century Construction Co. Headquarters (1961); and the Forest Interiors Corp. Building (1962 & 1967).

O’Brien died in Monterey, California on November 27, 2001.

By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - Aug 2012


WA State Architectural License – December 13, 1944.

“Quality Marks Economy Home” Seattle Daily Times  Aug 7, 1949.

“A Home Adapted To A Marine Site” Seattle Daily Times  May 27, 1955.

“23-Unit Apartment House Planned” Seattle Daily Times  Sept 18, 1955.

“Where architects hang their hats” Pacific Architect & Builder  Nov 1955.

“New Business Building” Seattle Daily Times  Sept 9, 1956.

“Offices” Seattle Daily Times  May 26, 1957.

“Expandable Home in Rancho Vista” Seattle Daily Times  Sept 8, 1957.

“View Apartments” Seattle Daily Times  Nov 10, 1957.

“View Home in Salt Air Hills” Seattle Daily Times  Apr 27 1958.

“Apartment House Will Be Built on Tenth” Seattle Daily Times  May 4, 1958.

“Open for Inspection” Seattle Daily Times  July 13, 1958.

“Queen Anne Office Building is Purchased” Seattle Daily Times  July 13, 1958.

“Fall Completion Slated” Seattle Daily Times  July 20, 1958.

“Apartment House Sales Total $477.000” Seattle Daily Times  Nov 22, 1959.

“Firm to Have Second Downtown Store” Seattle Daily Times  May 8, 1960.

“Open Today” Seattle Daily Times  Sept 25, 1960.

“New Office Building in Renewall Area” Seattle Daily Times  June 11, 1961.

“New Building on Eastlake” Seattle Daily Times  May 20, 1962.

“Apartments Open for Viewing” Seattle Daily Times  June 9, 1963.

“Unusual Home Over Ravine Put on Display” Seattle Times  May 17, 1964.

“A Delightful Dogwood Tree and a Tremndous Somset View” Seattle Daily Times  Dec 28, 1965.

“$5.2 Million Apt. Projects To Be Built” Seattle Daily Times  March 12, 1967.

“Interior Firm to Nearly Double Space” Seattle Daily Times  Sept 3, 1967.

“Bellevue Project Approved” Seattle Daily Times  January 26, 1969.