UW’s HUB rises where ‘Temple to Timber’ once stood
The UW Husky Union Building sits on the site of the extravagantly classical Forestry Building, built in 1909 for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, and ultimately laid low by hungry beetles.
Special to The Seattle Times
THE RECENT prizewinning remodel of the HUB (University of Washington’s Husky Union Building), shown in Jean Sherrard’s “now” photo, is an air-conditioned delight. While its atrium of glass and limestone reaches for the roof, it also extends nearly the length of the building.
The HUB was built in 1949 on the site of the Forestry Building, which was hammered together for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (A-Y-P). Some of that state-financed oddity was built from unhewn fir logs picked from the forests of Snohomish County for their “symmetry and soundness.” Five-and-one-half feet thick and 40 feet long, the logs required two flat cars each for delivery to the building site over a railroad spur laid through the A-Y-P campus.
Ignoring the Forestry Building’s classical ambitions, a local reporter, on first seeing a rendering from architects Charles W. Saunders and George Willis Lawton, concluded that it would surely be the “largest log cabin in the world.” The exposition’s directors were quick to “squelch these popular postcard notions”: “The Forestry Building will not be a log cabin building, but a building of architectural lines and design constructed largely of logs.”
The “Temple to Timber” opened on June 1, 1909, with the rest of the A-Y-P. Although lavishly appointed with the artifacts of forestry and a few freaks, too, like a pair of dice that were 6 feet through — “the kind of dice we roll in Washington” — this “Greek temple done in rustic” was an example of a museum overwhelming the exhibits inside.
Predictions that “such a building should stand for a century” were dashed by the wood-eating beetles that found living under the building’s bark nourishing, although ultimately not replenishing. In danger of collapse, the Forestry Building was razed in 1931.
Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.