John Graham, Senior was born in Liverpool, England and migrated stateside in 1900. Soon after arriving in Seattle, he established an architectural firm known as John Graham & Associates. A son, John Graham, Junior, came along in 1908. By 1931, he had graduated from Yale University.

In the midst of the Great Depression, jobs were hard to find. John Junior was employed in a retail position at Allied Stores until 1937, when the economy began to improve. He took a job at his father's architectural firm and relocated to New York City, in 1938, to work at a branch office.


After John Senior's retirement, in 1946, John Junior returned to Washington State to head his father's firm. A name change, to John Graham & Company, was instituted soon after. In 1947, John Junior was commissioned to design a suburban shopping center for Allied Stores, who operated Seattle's The Bon Marche chain. This shopping facility, originally known as NORTHGATE CENTER, opened in April 1950 and went on to revolutionize the retail industry.

It was the very first shopping complex in America to be configured as a "mall". A long corridor was lined, on both sides, by rows of inline stores and an open court fronted on a 3-level The Bon Marche anchor store. The complex, which was built in an outlying location, was also surrounded by a large parking area.


America's first shopping complex to be marketed as a (quote-unquote)  "mall" was Paramus, New Jersey's BERGEN MALL, another project designed by John Graham, Junior. Like Seattle's NORTHGATE, the BERGEN property was also developed by Allied Stores (as a vehicle for their Stern Brothers chain). The complex was dedicated in November 1957.

By this time, John Junior had three major shopping mall projects under his belt; the aforementioned NORTHGATE CENTER, plus CAPITOL COURT (1956) {in Milwaukee} and GULFGATE SHOPPING CITY (1956) {in Houston}.

These were followed by NORTHSHORE CENTER (1958) {Greater Boston}, ALA MOANA CENTER (1959) {Honolulu}, WELLINGTON SQUARE (1960) {London, Ontario} and LLOYD CENTER (1960) {Portland, Oregon}.

John Graham, Junior's most celebrated structure is surely the Space Needle, which was built for the Jet City's Century 21 Exposition (a.k.a. Seattle World's Fair), which was held between April and October 1962. The tower eventually became a major, Mid-Century Modern landmark.

Graham went on to envisage three more Seattle-centric shopping centers; TACOMA MALL (1965) {Tacoma}, SOUTHCENTER (1968) {Tukwila} and ALDERWOOD MALL (1979) {Snohomish County}. Eventually, he was responsible for the design of over seventy mall-type complexes; these located in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France and Australia.

Graham retired in 1986, doing only consultant-type work from then on. He passed away January 29, 1991, at the age of eighty-two.