Cheers to Bill Seider’s 49 Years at PIVOT Architecture!


Bill Seider, FAIA, casts a long shadow.

At 6-foot-4, many people look up to the accomplished architect, but none more so than all the PIVOT Architecture employees fortunate enough to have worked with and for him. Bill’s retirement in June ended a 49-year tenure at the firm where his influence over the years has been immeasurable.

“Bill’s immense legacy extends far beyond his dedication and contributions to our firm,” PIVOT Principal Kelley Howell said. “His love for mentoring and supporting young professionals has been instrumental in the evolution of our firm. We’ve all been fortunate to learn from Bill and to be guided towards innovation, values-driven work, and connection to our community.”

An Early Interest in Architecture

Bill has been enthralled with architecture for more than half a century. Beginning as a young boy growing up in New York City in the 1950s and 60s, he’d peek through holes in construction barriers watching in awe as the city boomed. He was amazed with how structures came together and spent hours constructing his own buildings with LEGOs and Erector Sets. His father, who created art with watercolors and mosaics in his spare time, taught Bill how to use an X-ACTO knife, build models, and draft with a T-square.

Bill was accepted to Brooklyn Technical High School, a public magnet school that offered a variety of STEAM education tracks and was quickly drawn to its architecture curriculum. Once he graduated, he followed his advisor’s recommendation and went to Oklahoma State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture and met Mandy Miller whom he would marry in 1975.

During summer breaks, Bill worked for architecture firms in New York City and Tulsa, OK. After graduating from Oklahoma State, Mandy pursued a master’s degree in education at the University of Oregon and Bill soon followed her to Eugene in 1974.

Bill and Mandy

An Architect in Eugene

That June, Bill joined Wilson and Associates Architecture and Engineering as a new apprentice. Bill’s first projects were an addition to the Yoncalla Elementary School and the new Bohemia Elementary School in Cottage Grove. He earned his Oregon architecture license in 1977.

Since its founding in 1956, the firm has grown and evolved, changing its name several times before becoming PIVOT Architecture in 2007.

“PIVOT is going to keep going,” Bill said. “I have no doubt about it thriving.”

PIVOT Architecture is now a 30-person firm specializing in private and public architecture throughout the West including work with school districts, multi-family housing, higher education, municipal clients, transit organizations, and more.

“Bill always encourages us to improve and do it better next time,” PIVOT Principal Katie Hall said. “He embraces us exploring what we think could be improved.”

Bill became a partner in the firm 1980 along with Eric Gunderson and Dick Bryant.

“Bill is direct and deeply honest,” Eric said; the pair spent 40 years working together. “We knew how to be architects but had to figure out how to run a business. Bill was good at it. He has always been a resolute voice of integrity and reason.”

After transitioning away from being a partner in the firm, but not ready to stop practicing, Bill embraced his senior architect position at PIVOT in 2017 working on selected projects including Eugene’s new YMCA which is nearing completion.

Eric and Bill

Bill’s Love of Architecture

“The most exciting thing about being an architect is seeing a building you designed last a lot longer than you will and have it improve the community and the lives of the people using it,” Bill said.

Going into large public buildings he’s worked on, like the UO’s Moshofsky Center and the Lane County’s Events Center, still affects him.

“It still brings me joy and gives me chills,” he said.

He loves how the practice of architecture is constantly changing and providing continuous learning opportunities. “There’s not just one project type,” he said.

Bill worked with hundreds of clients but none more so than Lane County where he led more than 400 projects over his career. He thoroughly enjoyed them because of the great variety. “The County has continued to retain our services because of the quality and continuity of service we have provided them,” he said.

Designing several post office buildings in Salem and Eugene also gave him particular satisfaction. His love of watching buildings take shape on paper and in the field was so pervasive he wished PIVOT had the chance to design every new project in Eugene.

AIA and Community Involvement

Bill has been involved with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for more than 50 years beginning with the student chapter at Oklahoma State where he served as president. The travel, committee involvement, and AIA community energized him.

“I always met kindred spirits at conferences, and have made lifelong friends from all across the country,” he said.

He served on the AIA’s National Board of Directors representing the Northwest and Pacific region from 2012-2014. He was also the local AIA chapter president in 1991, on the AIA National Continuing Education Committee for 14 years, and served on a number of other committees, edited newsletters, and made other contributions. He was also on the Oregon Board of Architect Examiners from 1999-2007.

Bill was elevated to the AIA’s prestigious College of Fellows in 2013 in recognition of his contributions in the areas of continuing education, architecture license renewal, and membership renewal. Of the approximately 96,000 AIA members, only about 3% are fellows according to the AIA.

“I’ve seen firsthand the positive results of Bill’s vision, leadership, and dedication to implement lifelong learning and continuing education requirements for architects in the state of Oregon and across the country,” said fellow Eugene architect Jim Robertson, FAIA, who nominated Bill to fellowship status.

Bill has also been involved locally with organizations including the Springfield Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee and the Glenwood Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

Mentorship and Inclusion

“With mentoring, I like helping others understand,” Bill said. “I get the same level of satisfaction that I do from the practice and the business of architecture. I hope it helps give emerging professionals the confidence to achieve their goals and find their own place in the profession.”

He chalks up his mentoring success to listening and sharing his stories, as well as being honest and compassionate.

“Bill was always willing to answer any question and have conversations,” PIVOT Principal Katie Hall said. “He was always willing to make time to mentor and explain and teach. I cannot explain or articulate the degree of influence that Bill had on my career and me as a person.”

Bill was an early advocate for inclusion of a diverse workforce in the architecture profession, which helped lead PIVOT to becoming an early adopter of equity within the firm. He was instrumental in hiring Harriet Cherry in 1992 who would become one of the first female architects in the Eugene area to lead a firm.

“Bill’s knowledge about the business and his complete willingness (and eagerness) to teach me about anything I had questions about always amazed me,” Harriet said. “Throughout the years, Bill continued to support me in all of my endeavors, whether in the office, in the community, or abroad.”

PIVOT values a diverse workforce and a rich cultural perspective by being proactive in its hiring practices, training, and advancement of women and minorities. In an industry that struggles to keep females in the profession, 50% of the principals of the firm today are women.

“Bill embraces change,” Katie said. “He may ask why or how the change is better but is often the first to say, ‘Let’s do this!’

“PIVOT is always changing and improving and this was exemplified by Bill. He encourages everyone to speak up and shares when he doesn’t think something is fair. He listens and hears others especially when they are a quiet voice in the room.”

(Left) Bill with Harriet Cherry; (Right) Bill with Kari Turner

A Bright Future for PIVOT

Bill was part of the second generation of principals at the thriving firm which is now on its seventh generation. Current principals include Kelley Howell, Kari Turner, Larry Banks, Toby Barwood, John Stapleton, and Katie Hall.

PIVOT has had a great deal of success in recent years building on the foundation Bill Seider and many others have laid. Recent notable projects include the new Camas Ridge Elementary School, the Campbell Community Center renovation, post-wildfire rebuilding efforts in Blue River, FX bus rapid transit stations, the RVTD master plan, the new Eugene Family YMCA, and many others.

“One of the things we’ve learned from Bill is to always be looking for more ways to help clients,” Katie said. “He’d say, ‘We can help with that!’ That’s one of the ways we build trust with our clients. We’re a resource. We’re here to help and solve problems.”

“Now that I’m retired, I’m going to return to the job from my boyhood: sidewalk superintendent,” Bill said. “This time, I’ll just know what I’m looking at.”