Walter D. Reed was born in Alameda and worked in Oakland. Reed graduated from Berkeley High School, and attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he earned his degree in architecture. After graduation, Reed went into partnership with Charles Dickey. Reed served as Architect of the Oakland Park Board following the end of his partnership with Dickey. In 1912 he became a principal in the firm Corlett & Reed. He later served on General Pershing’s staff in France during World War I as a Captain in the Engineers’ Reserve Corp. He is referenced in the city of Berkeley's Shattuck Avenue Commercial Corridor Historic Context and Survey, which had been owned by the Alden and McElrath families.
Reed and William G. Corlett designed the Financial Center Building, the Thomson Building, the Oakland Bank of Savings Building, Peralta Hospital, Merritt Hospital, the Stanford University Hospital, as well as many of the structures constructed on Lake Merritt.