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Saturday, July 3, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Paul A. Thiry Sr., Principal Architect Of 1962 World's Fair

AP

Architect Paul Albert Thiry Sr., who introduced European modernism to the Pacific Northwest in the 1930s and was principal architect of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, has died.

Mr. Thiry, who was 88, died at home in Seattle Sunday of complications from a recent bout with pneumonia.

He started out as a residential architect and gained international recognition in the 1950s for his design of the U.S. Embassy residence in Santiago, Chile, said Meredith Clausen, an architectural-history professor at the University of Washington.

But he also worked on churches, college campuses, hydroelectric projects and long-term plans for cities.

In the 1960s, he served as vice chairman of the Capital Planning Commission in Washington, D.C.

In that role, he "became embroiled in the controversy over whether to extend or preserve the west front of the U.S. Capitol building," Clausen said. He took on the American Institute of Architects, of which he was a fellow, by supporting extension over preservation.

"He was a feisty individual known for his strong opinions," Clausen said.

In 1985, when he was invited to sit in on a brainstorming session on future design plans for Seattle Center, he complained that the former World's Fair grounds had been littered with buildings the wrong size, in the wrong places.

Decades earlier, he made waves in the Northwest after a 1934 meeting with French architect LeCorbusier, the professional name used by Charles Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, one of the century's most important architects.

Mr. Thiry returned to Seattle and - "using the architectural language of the European modernists" - designed a stark, white stucco home filled with "bare, flush surfaces" for himself and his mother, Clausen said.

The house, with its clean, mechanical look, flat roof and bands of windows, shocked local sensibilities more attuned to brick and wood, gently sloping roofs and Tudor or colonial detailing, she said.

"A lot of people looked at modern buildings at the time and said, `That's for the birds,' " Mr. Thiry reflected in a 1987 interview.

Mr. Thiry's mark is all over the region.

He designed the Museum of History and Industry near the UW campus, the Washington State Library in Olympia, the Seattle Center Coliseum on the former World's Fair grounds and many area churches, including St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, a Seattle landmark.

He also helped design the master plans for Western Washington University in Bellingham and for Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., and served as architectural consultant to the Army Corps of Engineers in the design and planning of the Libby Dam in Montana.

Mr. Thiry was born in September 1904 in Nome, Alaska, to French parents. He graduated from the UW School of Architecture in 1928, and in 1986 became one of the first eight designers named to the school's architectural hall of fame.

At Mr. Thiry's request, there will be no memorial service or funeral. The family asks that remembrances be made to the Paul Albert Thiry Sr. AIA Scholarship Fund at the University of Washington.

Mr. Thiry is survived by his sons, Seattle architect Paul Thiry Jr. and Pierre Thiry of the King County police, and three grandchildren. His wife, Mary, died in 1986.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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