Spokane Journal of Business

Landmarks commission receives national recognition

Honor celebrates work highlighting midcentury modern architecture

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-—Natasha Nellis
The Parkade parking garage, at 511 W. Main, in downtown Spokane, is one of several examples of midcentury modern architecture in Spokane.

The Spokane Historic Landmarks Commission has received a national award for its work on an inventory of midcentury modern architecture here.

The Commission Excellence Award, which honors outstanding efforts and achievements by local preservation, historic district, and landmark commissions as well as boards of architectural review, was bestowed on the Spokane group by the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions last month at its 2018 convention in Des Moines, Iowa.

Megan Duvall, historic preservation officer for the city of Spokane, asserts that the Spokane Historic Landmarks Commission stood out for its social media outreach activities undertaken in conjunction with its midcentury modern architectural survey.

Duvall is the liaison between the volunteer commission and city staff, which compiled the survey.

“We have a Facebook page and also a website for the project,” Duvall says. “Every Thursday, we unveiled a midcentury (design) of the week.”

That kept the project on track and its social media followers engaged, she says.

“It gave us a big wave of interest that built to a crescendo,” Duvall says.

Midcentury modern architecture includes structures designed primarily between the 1930s and the late 1960s that emphasize modern connections to the environment with open spaces, as well as the expressive use of glass, concrete, and steel, although some designs also incorporate wood, natural stone, and other materials.

Duvall says the Spokane community is fortunate to have been home to prominent midcentury architects, including Kenneth Brooks, Warren C. Heylman, and Moritz Kundig.

Midcentury modern designs here include the Parkade parking garage, at 511 W. Main downtown; the Avista Corp. headquarters building, at 1411 E. Mission in East Spokane; and Sacred Heart Catholic Church, at 219 E. Rockwood Blvd. on the South Hill.

The final selection for the survey included 53 properties, most of which hadn’t been reviewed previously for historical significance. They included 22 single-family homes, 16 commercial buildings, 13 institutional buildings, and two apartment buildings. Architects designed 46 of the properties, five were designed by builders, one by an engineer, and one by an unknown designer.

The survey report is accessible online at midcenturyspokane.org.

Founded in 1983, NAPC’s mission is to build strong local preservation programs through education, advocacy, and training.

Mike McLean
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Deputy Editor Mike McLean has worked his entire journalism career in the Inland Northwest. Mike, who also lives to reel in fish and crank up music, has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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