Born on January 12, 1912 in Crofton, Nebraska, Robert H. Dietz moved to Seattle with his family at the age of 7, and graduated from O'Dea High School in 1929. After graduating from the University of Washington in 1941 with a Bachelor of Architecture, he attended MIT on scholarship and received a Master of Architecture in 1944. He went on to hold a position in the office of Scientific Research and Development at Princeton University, representing this division in bomb analysis during the war years.
Dietz began his career working with architect J. Lister Holmes (1947-52), and in 1953 he and Lawrence Waldron formed the partnership of Waldron & Dietz (1953-61). Dietz, as an independent designer, was awarded the Seattle AIA Chapter’s first honor award for the design of the Jack Wolf House on Mercer Island in 1950. Together, the firm was recognized for their outstanding work by the local chapter of the AIA with five additional honor awards and one merit award over the next seven years.
Beginning in 1947, Dietz taught in the University of Washington Department of Architecture, and achieved the rank of Professor in 1958. In 1962, he succeeded Arthur Herrman as Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Under his leadership, the College saw major expansions with the founding of three new departments (Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture and Building Construction) and the transformation of the professional degree in Architecture from an undergraduate to a graduate level.
Noted projects by Waldron & Dietz include: Emmanuel Episcopal Church (1960) on Mercer Island, the Taskett Agency Office Building (1955) in Seattle, and a sunroom addition to the University of Washington Presidents House. The firm specialized in schools and received note in several architectural journals regarding these projects. Among their best-known schools are Woodway Elementary School (1956) and Edmonds High School (1959) in Edmonds, Chinook Jr. High School (1958) and Normandy Park Elementary School (1954) in Seattle, Meridian Jr. High School (1958) and Covington Elementary School (1961) in Kent, and Olympic View Jr. High School (1957) in Mulkiteo.
Robert Dietz served on the design committee for the Seattle Worlds Fair and as President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to the National Commission on Architectural Barriers to improve disabled access. He also served on the National Architectural Accrediting Board and traveled around the country to assess college architecture departments.
In 1965 Dietz was elected to the AIA College of Fellows for his distinguished contributions to the profession. He retired in 1980 and moved to Arizona, where he died May 8, 2006 at the age of 94.