Bob Hull was a true “citizen artist.” Everything he did was original and highly creative, and in his own way. An inventor, he was curious about all manner of things. His ideas revolved around substance, not style. A highly intuitive man who trusted his gut, he was a gifted hand sketch artist who thought through drawings. Always approachable, his wide smile and sense of humor immediately put people at ease.
Bob’s life was deeply rooted in the dramatic landscape of Moses Lake in Eastern Washington where he grew up. His involvement in a farming life gave him an early appreciation for the simple beauty of utilitarian structures. Attending college at nearby Washington State University was a stepping stone to the wider world for Bob. It was there he met and formed a lasting friendship with David Miller. Both entered the Peace Corps after graduation, David in Brazil and Bob serving in Afghanistan developing prototypes for schools and the Afghanistan Tourist Office in Herat. Through these experiences he became familiar with traditional regional design methods and materials emphasizing natural ventilation for cooling and passive sunlight for warmth. Years later, Bob began his career in the New York office of esteemed architect Marcel Breuer before returning to the Pacific Northwest to found The Miller Hull Partnership with his WSU classmate David Miller.
During his 46 year career, Bob had a significant impact on the architecture of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, receiving numerous awards and honors. Among the most prominent, his design guidance contributed to Miller Hull’s receiving the 2003 AIA National Firm Award for sustained design excellence. Bob and Dave were jointly awarded both the Washington State University Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006, honoring alumni who have made significant contributions to society through their accomplishments, and the AIA Seattle Medal of Honor in 2010.
Bob was regarded for his natural ability to grasp the essence of a project and translate it into an inspired physical manifestation of client values. His design approach was that of an artist with an amazing eye for composition. His buildings fit amazingly well in their setting—urban or rural—and are extremely functional, comfortable to occupy and beautiful. In recent years he returned to Afghanistan where he was leading the design of the Gohar Khaton Girls School in Mazar-i-Sharif, which now enables 3000 girls to attend school.
Bob passed away unexpectedly in April 2014 while on sabbatical in South Africa. He spent the day before suffering a stroke doing what he loved–enjoying the view and sketching the beauty of a hillside vineyard.
Always generous and gracious with his knowledge and time, throughout the years Bob was an inspiration, mentor and role model to numerous design staff at Miller Hull, the architectural community, and students. Those who have benefited from the power of his inspirational work are legion. We are all lucky to have had the time we did with Bob. His boundless curiosity and unbridled enthusiasm for life continues to inspire our work.