Howard S. Wright was a cabinetmaker, an entrepreneur, and a man of character and foresight. On guts and determination, he founded the company that bears his name in Port Townsend, Washington in 1885.
125 years of building
In 1893, the Company moved from Port Townsend to Everett, and in 1929, to Seattle. Howard’s son, Howard H. Wright, and son-in-law, George Schuchart, took over the Company in the late 1930s. Carrying on the values of their father, they worked on many landmark projects, including the Grand Coulee Dam. In the 1940s, the family’s third generation expanded the Company into what was then the largest group of construction and real estate companies in the Northwest. In the early 1960s, Howard S. Wright was selected as the primary builder for the World’s Fair in Seattle, themed “Century 21.” It was for this event that Howard S. Wright built the Space Needle—now a worldwide landmark.
Medical, hospitality, higher education, residential and commercial construction characterized the Company’s work during the 1970s, as Howard S. Wright expanded its operations throughout the Western United States.
High-rise, office complex, hospitality and industrial construction dominated the firm’s work through the 1980s. During this same decade, Fletcher Challenge, from New Zealand, became a partner in the business and subsequently purchased the Company in 1986.
Signature projects included Columbia Center, the tallest high-rise in Seattle, built in 1985; construction of the first three buildings on Microsoft’s Redmond campus in 1985; and the Washington Mutual Tower in Seattle in 1988.
In 1993, the Company began operating as Fletcher Wright Construction. We built Boeing’s 40-87/88 Office Complex in Everett, Washington, featuring over two million square feet of office and parking space for Boeing’s 777 design team. Our first project for Nike in Beaverton, Oregon was completed in 1995.
Our Special Projects Group (SPG) was created in 1995 to service our clients on smaller fast-track projects. One of SPG’s early signature projects was Microsoft’s Buildings 1, 2 and 3, for which mechanical and electrical systems were upgraded in just 12 weeks with fully occupied buildings.
In 1996, Brad Nydahl and John Tremper led a small employee group that purchased the Company back from Fletcher Challenge, returning to operations as Howard S. Wright. We have continued our work with Microsoft in Seattle, including building the Augusta 1.2 million-square-foot office complex and Building 28.
In Portland, we teamed with longtime development partner, Wright Runstad Company and built the 24-story ODS Tower. The Portland Westin hotel was completed in 1999.
The new millennium ushered in significant growth at Howard S. Wright with a rapidly growing office in Portland as well as growth in our Phoenix, Irvine, Sacramento and San Francisco offices. Much of our growth was fueled by our clients as they expanded their presence in new geographic regions.
In Seattle, the Bremerton Transportation Center was completed in 2000, as well as One Convention Place, a 21-story office building, adjacent to the Seattle Convention Center.
Significant renovation work was done on Microsoft’s campus, on buildings Howard S. Wright had built over 10 years before, supporting Microsoft’s rapid growth.
In 2002, we completed our first LEED certified project: Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center.
In Portland, we were a major contributor to the redevelopment of Portland’s Pearl and Museum Districts, with construction of major mixed-use projects, including The Gregory in 2001, Museum Place in 2003 and The Elizabeth in 2005. Major mall expansions included Clackamas Town Center and Washington Square.
In California, the 11th and Grand project was completed in 2007 and featured Evo, Elleven and Luma, all mixed-use high-rise buildings, just blocks from Staples Center in Los Angeles. Elleven and Luma were the first condominiums in California to receive LEED Gold certification. In San Francisco, we renovated the historic Mark Hopkins and Sir Francis Drake hotels.
Healthcare projects have become a mainstay in the Northwest region, with multiple projects for Group Health, Multicare, Providence, Southwest Washington Medical Center, Peace Health, Legacy, OHSU, Evergreen Healthcare Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente. Evergreen Hospital Medical Center’s $100 million-plus state-of-the art emergency department and nine-story patient tower were completed in 2007. Peace Health’s St. John Medical Center multi-phase ED expansion and tower renovation were completed in 2010.
We also completed many Design-Build and LEED certified projects, including U.S. Coast Guard Shore Operations Building (Silver) on Seattle’s waterfront and Jack London Marketplace (Silver) in Oakland, California. In 2009, Howard S. Wright completed City Center Plaza, a 26-story high rise LEED CS Gold office building with Wright Runstad Development, including a 500,000-square-foot full building tenant improvement for Microsoft.
From our first LEED project in 2002 to each new project, we have deepened our expertise in sustainable building solutions. In 2010, Howard S. Wright completed our 37th LEED certified/registered project.
Today, we are one of the oldest continually operating building contractors in the West, with company headquarters located in Portland, Oregon.