We are saddened to announce that David Soderstrom, founder of Soderstrom Architects, passed away on September 10, 2020 in Pendleton, Oregon where he retired. As we mourn his passing, we want to honor the exceptional legacy he left behind.
He formed his own firm, Soderstrom Architects, in April 1984 with Cameron Hyde and Mac McBride. While working at the prior firm Martin/Soderstrom/Matteson, Cameron and Mac went to David’s house after midnight one night. They strongly believed that that there was a better direction for the practice to move in, and they told David they were going to start a new firm. He immediately said, “I’m in.” Together, the three founded a new firm, named Soderstrom Architects, P.C., in recognition of David’s name familiarity within the industry.
David is remembered fondly as being talented, fearless, and hell of a good time to be around. He was a one-man entertainment center at parties, spontaneously playing piano or pulling out his banjo. He liked to dress up for events in capes, hats and bow ties, which contributed to the overall effect. David had excellent hand-eye coordination that served him well as a sign painter and a draftsman, and in games of pool, cards, and horseshoes.
He was both a skilled businessman and a talented designer, known for his ability to produce a concept sketch from scratch in front of a client. He created relationships with clients that transcended just getting work, an ethos that is embedded in the firm culture to this day.
David’s work was consistently striking and ahead of its time. He designed the Pendleton Junior High School in 1982, which was the largest active solar-powered building in Oregon. The stunning yellow building was set against a backdrop of golden wheat fields and built to LEED standards, long before anyone talked about LEED or green buildings. Additional notable projects include Forest Grove High School, Oregon City High School, the Ghost Creek and Witch Hollow Clubhouses at Pumpkin Ridge, and the Gearhart Golf Links Clubhouse.
David gave his time and attention to supporting the professional growth of staff and architectural development in Portland. Within the office, David was always curious about projects everyone was working on, ready to chime in with constructive advice. He instilled confidence in all those that he mentored, including those who have since gone on to take leadership positions within the firm. Even after retiring, David was active in the architectural community. He served on the Portland Design Review Commission for many years and was on the citizen design review group of the Tillikum Crossing Bridge.
When Soderstrom Architects was first founded, these were the words David and the founders chose to represent the firm’s values. Throughout his time at Soderstrom, we can say with confidence that he stayed true to them:
We learned about Love from Mom,
Truth from Dad,
Beauty from God,
and Cash from the U.S. Bank
As David Soderstrom’s namesake, our firm honors his accomplishments and looks to carry on his legacy. Farewell David, and rest in peace.