The exterior of the Desai residence. Photo courtesy of BUILD L.L.C.
The exterior of the Desai residence. Photo courtesy of BUILD L.L.C.

On June 20, the Queen Anne Historical Society (QAHS) provided its second Modern Tour. 

The Modern Tour started with a presentation by Jeff Murdock. Murdock is currently serving his second term on the City of Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board and Architectural Review Committee. He presented the Queen Anne Pool (1920 First Ave. W.), which was designed by Benjamin McAdoo & Co. and completed in 1978. 

Murdock explained, “Construction of the building was controversial because it required the purchase and removal of 10 homes, making it the most expensive Seattle Parks pool at $1.25 million.” The pool was a project in the second phase of McAdoo’s career, and Murdock believes “his influence as an African-American architect and activist for social change was significant in national as well as local contexts.”

The tour went on to meet architect Andrew Borges at the Larson Johnson residence (719 W. Lee St.). Borges is a partner of Rohleder Borges Architecture firm, where they balance contemporary structures with a nod to tradition and craft. The design of the Larson Johnson Residence plays along with the firm’s balancing act by keeping the house close to the street and pushing the yard to the rear, in spite of the expansive views of the sound from the front. The firm smartly opened up a connection from the private backyard to the view of Puget Sound through the center of the house.

The tour then moved to another view home at 1121 Bigelow Ave. Andrew van Leeuwen, a partner and lead architect at BUILD L.L.C., presented the Desai Residence. BUILD is a modern residential and commercial design-build firm with a popular blog (, where they discuss modern design in the Pacific Northwest. Many of their posts include detailed insights into their projects, the Desai Residence included.

Next up, the tour visited another favorite view from Queen Anne by stopping at The Block (1709 Dexter Ave. N.). Architect Matthew Stannard, formerly a senior associate with Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, presented The Block; he later formed Stannard Architects and the current Stillwater Dwellings. 

The Block is a mixed-use condominium with four residential units and two live/work units at street level. The interior of each unit has a double-height living space and a wood-and-steel staircase that connect each floor to the roof deck. This project had the unfortunate experience of being completed at the start of the recession in 2008.

Finally, the tour moved to Uptown for its last two projects. First was Eyeballs Eyewear (166 Roy St.), by Lane Williams. Williams is a Queen Anne resident and two-time Modern Tour presenter; he has been specializing in modern custom home design since 1992. With help from Williams, clients Milton McCrum and Paula Whelan turned a 1950s commercial building into McCrum’s optometry office on the ground floor, with living spaces on the existing second floor and a newly constructed third floor.

Rotating the tour’s gaze across the street was the Power Control Center (157 Roy St.), the final stop. QAHS president Michael Herschensohn discussed that the Power Control Center was designed by Harmon, Pray & Detrich and completed in 1963. Herschensohn also mentioned it was a “single site from which City Light engineers could monitor the flow and distribution of electricity through the entire city.” The building was overbuilt to minimize the effects of nuclear fallout for the occupants lucky enough to be inside. 

The tour concluded with a reception at the Tin Lizzie Lounge (600 Queen Anne Ave. N.), with signature drinks named after Benjamin McAdoo Jr., in honor of his service with the US Agency for International Development and his work to develop a concrete modular housing system to replace substandard housing in Jamaica in the 1960s.

NICOLE DEMERS-CHANGELO is vice president of the Queen Anne Historical Society (, a real estate broker and an architect. To comment on this column, write to