Bob Hull was a true “citizen artist.” An inventor, he was curious about all manner of things, his ideas revolving around substance, not style. Bob was a both a gifted artist as well as a highly intuitive man, trusting his gut as much as his hand. He thought through his drawings thoroughly, but also allowed the element of spontaneity to enliven his concepts with revelatory sparkle. Always approachable, his wide smile and sense of humor immediately disarmed people and put them at ease. His designs followed suit and emitted a warmth and approachability that mirrored his personality, a rare quality for modernist design.
Bob’s life was deeply rooted in the dramatic landscape of Moses Lake in Eastern Washington where he grew up. His rural upbringing and involvement in farm life influenced his early appreciation for the simple beauty of utilitarian structures. Attending college at nearby Washington State University represented Bob’s inaugural step into the wider world. It was there that he met and formed a lifelong friendship with David Miller, both of whom entered the Peace Corps after graduation.
This friendship deepened over the years, and the two became known as soulmates, their professional and personal lives entwined, their approaches complementary, their values identical in the respect and love they each carried for the earth and its communities.
Though David served in Brazil, Bob was placed in Afghanistan working to develop prototypes for schools as well as the Afghanistan Tourist Office in Herat. It was through these experiences that he became familiar with traditional regional design methods and materials emphasizing natural ventilation for cooling and passive sunlight for warmth. In recent years, Bob returned to Afghanistan where he was leading the design of the Gohar Khatoon Girls’ School in Mazir-i-Sharif which now enables 3000 girls to attend school.
Years later, Bob began his career in the New York office of esteemed architect Marcel Breuer before returning to the Pacific Northwest to establish The Miller Hull Partnership with his classmate, best friend, and soulmate 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, 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, as well as 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 amalgamation of client values and good design. His approach was that of an artist, with an eye for composition, his buildings fitting amazingly well into their setting, whether urban or rural.
Bob passed away unexpectedly in April 2014 while on sabbatical with his family in South Africa. The day before suffering a stroke, he sat beside a hillside vineyard, enjoying the view, and translating its beauty onto paper. Always generous and gracious with his knowledge and time, Bob was an inspiration, mentor, and role model to numerous design staff at Miller Hull, the architectural community, and his students. Those who have benefitted 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.
Lectures & Juries
2003 AIA National Firm Award
2006 Washington State University Alumni Achievement Award (with David Miller)
2010 AIA Seattle Medal of Honor (with David Miller)