Over 300 people attended a memorial service held for Valerie A. Sivinski on Saturday afternoon at the Lynn Funeral Home Chapel in Tacoma.Sivinski, a local architect who died accidentally on Oct. 17, was remembered by members of the community, as well as Gov. Gary Locke, for her work in restoring Tacoma’s historic buildings.
She was most recently involved with a new Tacoma building project, the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, where she served as facility committee chair for the board. “We feel terribly saddened by her loss,” said Patsy Surh O’Connell, president of the center. Surh O’Connell said they met 10 years ago when Sivinski was the restoration architect for the Union Station Federal Courthouse renovation.
“I came from the culture where men dominate many of the projects, and her being a woman there, I felt like she became instantly my role model,” Surh O’Connell said. “We all have been so happy having her as a board member, and we have another strong reason to make the center be a reality, to honor her. It is important that her legacy lives on by working hard to make it happen.”
Sivinski, 49, was born in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Slavic Languages at Lawrence University, Wisconsin; her master’s degree in Architecture at the University of New Mexico, and a second master’s degree at the University of York, England, in Architectural Conservation. Before moving to Tacoma in 1988 with her husband, Tim McDonald, also an architect, Sivinsky worked on the renovation of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
For over a decade in Tacoma, Sivinski was a primary or consulting architect on many of the city’s historic building restorations including, as Tacoma’s Historic Preservation Officer, development of the University of Washington Tacoma campus and the creation of the North Slope Historic District.
In 1997, Sivinski, her husband, and Michael Sullivan founded Artifacts Consulting, a firm in Tacoma specializing in architectural conservation. In the last few years, she was involved in the restoration of many buildings, including the domed Washington State Legislative Building and Capitol Campus in Olympia; the Bostwick Building, TRC Building, Horizon Pacific Center, Nisqually Powerhouse, Perkins Building and the Tacoma Building.Sivinski was instrumental in efforts to save Albers Mill, and the Murray Morgan Bridge. She was also active in the Job Carr Cabin project.
She is survived by her husband, Tim McDonald; father, Jacek Sivinski; sister, Sharon Sivinski; and brothers, John, Bob and Greg Sivinski; as well as seven nieces and nephews.
Memorials can be directed to the Tacoma Architectural Foundation or the Asian Pacific Cultural Center, both through any branch of Columbia Bank in Washington State.