The Drachen Building: 'Distinctive But Neighborly'

Ben Ruhe
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At age 79, Ibsen Nelsen's Drachen Foundation headquarters, now under construction, may well be his last architectural design. He is pleased to note it continues the creative tradition he has established in his 57 years as a practicing architect in Seattle: "It's a nice little building in a nice little neighborhood. With its courtyard in front, it is part of the continuity of the street-distinctive but fitting in nicely with the neighborhood."

Nelsen is widely credited with being a major force in maintaining Seattle as a notably livable city. He has been the architect for many major buildings over the years-renovation and expansion of the Museum of Flight, highly visible townhouses on Capitol Hill, structures and a central square at Western Washington State University, conversion of a naval training center into a park, housing and commercial development at South Lake-and as an active member of many municipal boards he has effectively fought for the best in community design.

"Nelsen has been in the forefront of the struggle for intelligent planning," is the way critic Alan Temko phrases it. Commented the late Isamu Noguchi, one of America's foremost sculptors and urban designers, "His architecture is very much a reflection of the man. The concern is for human beings, their use, and the importance of architecture as enviorment."

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