2020 Preservation Champion – Dan Say!

Historic Seattle’s Preservation Celebration, formerly known as the Preservation Awards, benefits the organization’s mission to save meaningful places that foster lively communities.

SSF is proud to announce that our own Dan Say won The 2020 Preservation Champion award!

Historic Seattle’s Announcement
Anyone who meets Dan Say immediately understands he is a passionate person. Dan brings this passion and sensitivity to the structural design for every individual project. This means if a traditional structural approach is best for the project, great. But if an unusual, edge-of-the-box approach will better serve the design intent and maintain historic integrity, then that’s what you’ll get.

With 39 years of structural design for historic buildings under his belt, Dan has amassed an expansive resume. He and his team have touched a number of iconic places including the Pike Place Market redevelopment, King Street Station, more than a dozen buildings in the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood, six Carnegie Library renovations for Seattle Public Library, the Washington State Legislative building both pre- and post-Nisqually Earthquake, the original Rainier Brewery, the Cherberg Building in Olympia, and multiple county courthouses throughout the state.

Dan is a native and second-generation Seattleite – his grandfather was an immigrant tile setter who worked on the original King Street Station lobby in 1906. He grew up on Beacon Hill in the shadow of the historic Pacific Tower (then called the Pacific Medical Center), attended O’Dea High School, and completed his education at Seattle University. His passion for local history combined with his love of people led him straight to a historic preservation career path. When Dan looks at a historic building, he not only sees the building’s bones but also the people that occupied that building and its relation to its neighborhood. He understands that the goal is not just to save the building, but to preserve the neighborhood’s history for future generations.

Building restoration is a key element in preserving a community’s history. Dan’s ability to provide practical design solutions with minimal intervention and his people skills are a winning combination for a successful renovation endeavor. Whether it’s providing preliminary historic structure evaluations, or inserting seven stories of braced frames to the FX McRory’s project while removing only minimal portions of the existing structure, or tracking down the original 1941 Yesler Terrace Steam Plant chimney stack drawings from the Chicago construction company critical to the analysis that preserved the stack (resulting in $800,000 savings for Seattle Housing Authority), Dan and his team’s thoughtful approach for every project results in preserving the historic fabric for Seattle’s neighborhood gems.

In addition to being a founding principal with Swenson Say Fagét (SSF) for the past 25 years, Dan’s community commitments include six years on the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation Board of Directors ( he is currently still a non-board member volunteer), four years on the AIA Seattle Board of Directors, and two years on the Design-in-Public Board of Directors.

Nicholas Vann, AIA, Washington State’s Historical Architect with the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, speaks to Dan’s unrivaled approach to preservation state-wide:
“Dan Say truly sets the gold standard when it comes to sensitive, practical, innovative approaches to structural challenges in historic buildings. His diligence and attention to detail are unrivaled as evidenced by his outstanding accomplishments in Seattle and Washington State. He possesses characteristics that breed success in every project he touch¬es, and he inspires others to approach historic rehabilitation projects with the same care and sensitivity as he does.”

So, raise a glass to Dan (an Italian red, he’d likely suggest) and all his accomplishments on behalf of historic places!

2020 Preservation Celebration Awards

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