February 11, 2019

Gary Larson first knew he wanted to become an architect at age 13. Growing up on the Olympic Peninsula and working with his builder father to design houses, he had design in his blood. After graduating from Washington State University, he moved to Boston and joined Kallmann McKinnell and Knowles Architects and got his start working with the team that designed the competition-winning Boston City Hall.

During his 50+ years in the business, Gary has played a central role in defining and shaping the urban environment, for which he has achieved national recognition for design excellence from the American Institute of Architects and major architectural publications. In 1976, while with ZGF Partnership, Gary was project designer for the three-building, 230-foot-tall World Trade Center on Portland’s waterfront, linking three buildings on three blocks with a unique, glazed space frame bridge and roof structure, redefining the city’s urban experience forever. 

In the past 50 years, he’s worked as senior principal, global design leader, partner, and design director for notable firms such as ZGF Partnership, MG2, and Walker McGough. He also cofounded his own design firms, Parker Larson Architects in New York City and BML Architects in Portland.

Shortly after retiring from MG2, Otak’s Brian Fleener, Director of Architecture, asked to join him again. Intrigued by the possibility of working with Brian to help sculpt and elevate the company’s architecture practice, Gary agreed to come out of retirement to join Otak. He quickly stepped into the fun challenge of mentoring Otak’s younger architects, working with a fascinating team of people working on great projects that have significant meaning in their communities.

“Gary and I have worked together for many years,” said Brian. “The passion he brings to project design is unequaled in this industry. Every time we get into a discussion about design, I leave the conversation full of energy.”

Since Gary and Brian have joined Otak, the company has teamed with Kirkland Development to design the boutique Hotel Indigo on the Vancouver waterfront and is working with James Wong from Vibrant Cities to design Hyatt Place, an innovative, mixed-use hotel/housing high-rise on a small site in Portland’s Pearl District. Next they will tackle revitalizing a mixed-use building, Jasmine, in the heart of Seattle’s Chinatown.

Gary’s design portfolio includes iconic northwest projects such as the KOIN Tower, the Veterans’ Medical Center, Bellevue Towers, and Tower 12 residential mixed-use project near the Seattle Waterfront, Pacific Tower, as well as the Kaiser Interstate campus, Oregon Graduate Institute’s Cooley Science Center, Kah-Nee-Ta Vacation Resort, Convent of the Holy Names, Temple Beth Shalom, St. Luke’s Hospital, and Spokane County City Public Safety Building. Beyond the northwest, he’s designed Chengdu’s 57-story Suning Plaza and the Wuxi Chong An Towers in China. 

“I’m enjoying working at Otak and sharing my commitment to outstanding design and quality,” said Gary. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to cultivate and mentor the next generation of architects by sharing my passion for enhancing the urban experience through sustainable, elegant, and functional design.”

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