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John Myer, professor and Department head, dies at 89

The following obituary was graciously provided to us by the family of Professor Myer:

John Randolph Myer, known as Jack to his friends and family, died of natural causes on February 17th, surrounded by his family.  He was 89 years old.  Mr. Myer was a prominent Boston architect, founder of Arrowstreet, Inc. and was department head of MIT’s Department of Architecture from 1982-1987.  With Kevin Lynch, and others, Jack Myer was instrumental in the Downtown Waterfront Renewal Plan, the Boston Architectural Center, and the Massachusetts State Archives Building.

With a career that spanned over fifty years, John Myer had a keen mind and was passionate about everything he did.   From large scale city planning issues to building cabinets in his wood shop, he brought a deep love of making things to everything he did.  He shared this passion with his students and loved encouraging their growth as designers and “place makers”. 

John Myer graduated from MIT with a bachelor’s degree in architecture and with his wife and best friend, Margaret Myer, set off to Italy on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1952.  While in Florence, John Myer worked with Kevin Lynch studying the city, and subsequently worked for the Italian architect Gino Valle in Udine. These influences would become important references for their design of the Boston Government Center and the Boston Waterfront master plan. Upon returning to Boston, John Myer went to work with Hugh Stubbins Associates where he worked on the design of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge.  He started teaching at MIT’s School of Architecture & Planning in 1958 until retiring in 1995.  From 1982 to 1987 Myer was the Head of the Department.  Myer was named an AIA fellow by the Boston Society of Architects in 1968.

John Myer teamed up with Fletcher Ashley in 1960 operating from his home garage, to start and build a firm that would become Arrowstreet. Distinguished and acclaimed buildings created under John’s direction include the Marlboro College Music Shed, the beautiful Marlboro College Library, the international award winning Boston Architectural Center, Cambridge Friends School, Dormitories at Hampshire College, the Babson College Academic Center, the Harvard Square Garage, Massachusetts State Archives Building to name a few.   During this time, Myer’s work also included large scale planning projects some of which included a new town in France, Streets for the People in Washington DC and 500 acre development on the coast of Laguna Nigel in California.

John Myer was the co-author of any number of books and articles in his career, but none meant more to him than the one he wrote with his wife, Margaret Myer, a psychiatric social worker.  “People and Places” explores the connection between our built environment and our unconscious thoughts and feelings.

In addition to his wife, Myer is survived by Charlie Myer and his wife Bernadette Downey, Anna Myer and her husband Jay Paris, and Margaret Keats Myer and her husband Demirhan Yenigun, and five grandchildren Sami, Ella and Emre Yenigun and Henry and Seth Myer.

Memorial services are to be held at the North Sandwich Quaker Meeting House in North Sandwich New Hampshire with a reception to follow at the Myer Barn 175 Brown Hill Road Sandwich on August 6th.  Particulars will be announced at a later time.