In Memory of Norman Millar, AIA


AIA Los Angeles remembers Norman Millar, AIA, distinguished architect and educator. In his honor, we wanted to share some tributes from his friends and colleagues.

It is very hard to accept the idea that the amazing Norman Millar died this week. He was a wonderful friend and mentor and inspiration not only to me but also hundreds (thousands probably) of other architects, friends and students. Norman was like the hero in a vintage western, the good sheriff or sometimes the Lone Ranger. Throughout his life he worked to keep Architecture as a profession more inclusive and actively engaged with all people and in all parts of the city. He loved the west coast and in the last decade found a second spiritual home at Sea Ranch where Halperin's utopia touched a chord. I don't know where he got his tireless drive and energy, or his endless compassion and empathy and super funny sides... But he had them all in spades and was very loved and is very dearly missed. Much love to his partner Tam, best friend Alison and his family... we were all so lucky to have had him in our lives- thank you for sharing him.

Barbara Bestor, AIA

The Woodbury University community was deeply saddened to learn that Norman R. Millar, AIA, Dean of the School of Architecture, passed away on April 14 due to complications from surgery, following his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Norman was 62. A warm, caring and passionate man, he will be deeply missed - on our Los Angeles and San Diego campuses and in the architecture community worldwide.
Norman was one of the nation's leading architectural educators. AIA|LA honored him with its Educator of the Year Award in 2014, and he absolutely loved what he did. His approach to teaching architecture was simultaneously aspirational and practical - part of a lifelong attempt to help more people find their voice, and thereby find joy in the profession. "I exited architecture school with the intention of making good buildings, and discovered that teaching expanded my passion by fostering it in students," he recalled a year or so ago.
Throughout his career at the University, Norman's talent and experience as a practitioner and vision as an educator helped thousands of young people achieve success in the field. His leadership in the School of Architecture was informed by his life-long commitment to social justice, sustainable practice, and the power of architecture to improve lives. This vision changed and humanized the face of contemporary architecture education in California.He headed the architecture program at Woodbury since 1999. During that period, enrollment nearly tripled in a program that provided undergraduate and graduate students important technical, theoretical, and communications skills while realizing their unique personal design voice. His many years of service to the university and the architecture community both at home and abroad are part of his rich and enduring legacy.

An award-winning architect who, together with his partners in the architectural practice A2Z, won several prestigious awards, including Architectural Record's Record House Award, and the "40 Under 40" list of the New York Architectural League, Norman continued to actively practice throughout his academic career. In 1985, he founded Los Angeles-based Norman Millar Architects. Recent completed projects included the Ramirez residence at the storied Sea Ranch community in northern California, in partnership with Judith Sheine, Architecture Department Head at the University of Oregon, and his own home in Echo Park which he called the 'Ark House' and was featured in the Los Angeles Times.

Prior to joining Woodbury, Norman taught at several Los Angeles institutions, including the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), the University of Southern California (USC), Art Center College of Design and the University of California, Los Angeles. He graduated with a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree from the University of Washington and earned a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. He also earned a certificate from The Ross Minority Program in Real Estate at the Lusk Center for Real Estate in the Marshall School of Business at USC. His academic interests included critical practice, alternative practice, urban forestry and everyday urbanism and his publications included "Street Survival: Plight of the Los Angeles Street Vendors" in Everyday Urbanism, edited by Margaret Crawford, John Chase, and John Kaliski, (Monacelli Press, New York, 2008).

Norman served as President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) 2013-14, bringing distinction to Woodbury through his thoughtful initiatives and extraordinary leadership at the national level. Norman served on the Board of Directors for Places Journal and was active in a number of other professional organizations, including the National Council of Architects Registration Board (NCARB) Licensure Task Force and the executive committee of the California Architectural Foundation; he also participated in several National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) visiting teams. Locally, he served on the Hollywood Design Review Advisory Board, the advisory board for the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design and the board of AIA|LA.

Norman will forever be lovingly remembered by his life partner Tam van Tran and beloved family and friends.

Celebration of Life | May 27 at 6pm
We invite you to join us in honoring Norman at a Celebration of Life event on the Woodbury Los Angeles campus on Friday, May 27, at 6:00 pm. RSVP to by May 16.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Norman R. Millar Endowment for the School of Architecture at Woodbury University. A link to donate to the Norman R. Millar Endowment will be shared soon.

Goodbye Norman Millar: A Beautiful Soul at Woodbury, by Frances Anderton, Hon. AIA/LA (link)

Last updated: 10-May-2016 11:15 AM
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