Friday, January 8, 2010

Passing - Community Design Leader Jan Gleason

Received this sad news from Daniel Glenn and Roger Tucker at Environmental Works today. Many of us may not realize the impact that Jan and her team at EW have had on our neighborhood. They have been a crucial partner in designing some of the most significant renewals in our neck of the woods, including The West Seattle Community Resource Center.


“Housing or day care should be more than just a roof over somebody's head.
Dismal, dreary spaces are oppressive. Light and connections with the outside
make us feel better. We believe everybody deserves them. I don't think it's any
more complicated than that.” Jan Gleason
As many of you may have heard, Jan Gleason, passed away quietly early Wednesday morning at her home in a room, that was light filled with a beautiful view into the trees and sky. In her last days she was surrounded by, and cared for by, close friends and family.

Jan was a "social worker in three dimensions". She started her own practice, Gleason & Associates, in 1982 with a focus on work for non profits, child care centers and affordable housing providers. In 1998, her decades of socially responsible practice culminated in Jan's leadership role as Executive Director of Environmental Works, a Seattle community design center established in 1970 to make quality design available to under served communities. According to the AIA "her practice experience, professional reputation, and design acumen have advanced the importance of Environmental Works as one of the nation's most respected community design centers, and helped bring value and awareness to the profession's community service mission". Jan retired from this position in 2008.

Especially close to her heart were the more than 50 child care centers she designed. Through this work she became a national authority on creating spaces for young children and served on numerous advisory boards developing standards for child care design. Her child centers included projects for Neighborhood House, Catholic Community Services, the Seattle Times, Fred Hutchinson, Harborview Medical Center and Denise Louie Education Center. Because of her values and her commitment to the communities and clients she served, Jan was honored as a Fellow by the American Institute of Architects in 2006.

Our office will be honoring Jan's memory by contributing to the Homeless Remembrance Project. This is a project that values people and community - values that guided Jan's career. To find out more about the project see

It has been a sad week here at the office, but her generous and caring spirit lives on through her work. Jan was an inspiration to us all.

Daniel Glenn
Executive Director

Roger Tucker
Director of Architecture
environmental WORKS
402 15th Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112

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