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obituary
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John MacAllistar spacee

john macallister: 1943–2014

Belvedere architect was key in building iconic Salk Institute

By Deirdre McCrohan
dmccrohan@thearknewspaper.com

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Architect John Edward "Jack" MacAllister of Belvedere, best known for his instrumental work on the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Studies building in La Jolla under famed architect Louis I. Kahn, died Oct. 13 at Aldersly Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in San Rafael of complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. He was 80.

Mr. MacAllister had lived in Belvedere for 26 years and served partial terms on the Belvedere Planning Commission twice, the first time from 1996 to 1998 and the second from 2005 to 2007.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where, he noted on his curriculum vitae, he had studied under Kahn, as well as architecture giants Buckminster Fuller, Paul Rudolph, Robert Geddes, Stanislawa Nowicki and Lewis Mumford, the latter a legendary historian known for his study of urban environments and urban architecture.

Mr. MacAllister graduated from Penn in 1955. He worked for Kahn from 1956 to 1967 and then moved to England, where he taught architecture for two years at King's College at the University of Cambridge.

When he returned to the U.S., he went back to work for Kahn and almost immediately was assigned responsibility for designing and overseeing construction of the Salk complex.

He went on to head a series of his own firms with different colleagues, including MacAllister, Rinehart & Ring, 1968-1976; Bobrow/Thomas Associates, 1980-1986; Anshen + Allen Los Angeles, 1986-1991; Anshen + Allen San Francisco, 1991-1995; and, more recently, Cameron MacAllister.

"At conventions with Jack, he would simply stand in the middle of the most trafficked hall and people would come up to him — usually to say that he was the most influential person in their career," said architect Mark Cameron, a principal in MacAllister's latest firm, Cameron MacAllister in Orinda.

In the 1990s, he became embroiled in a controversy over a proposed addition to the Salk Institute, an addition he designed with his partner at the firm of Anshen + Allen, now part of Stantec.

"There are those who feel (the addition) could not be more respectful of the original Kahn building, and there are others who believe that, if built, it will defile a masterpiece," New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger said at the time.

Mr. MacAllister also served as professor of architecture at the University of Southern California for a number of years. He lectured or served as visiting critic at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Penn and at Harvard, Yale and Princeton universities.

Mr. MacAllister was an early pioneer in the use of digital technology in all aspects of architectural design and practice. He boasted that he had not drawn a construction drawing with a pencil since 1971, said his family.
He was named a fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1994. In 2013, the institute presented him with its California Council Lifetime Achievement Award. He was noted for encouraging younger architects and supporting women trying to advance in the profession.

In announcing him as a speaker at the American Institute of Architects California Council's 2012 Monterey Design Conference, council Editor Tim Culvahouse said of MacAllister: "(His) 57-year career in architecture is distinguished by a rare comprehensiveness, exemplifying consistent excellence across the many facets of the discipline. In the years since (the Salk building), Mr. MacAllister has been responsible for dozens of distinguished, award-winning buildings throughout the world, with a particular emphasis on innovation in medical and academic laboratories.

A passionate sailor, he was a member of the Lahaina, San Diego and San Francisco yacht clubs. He also enjoyed cooking — he was a serious student of French and northern Italian cuisine — skiing, backgammon and racquetball.

Mr. MacAllister was married twice, first to Diane Dingee MacAllister in 1955; they were divorced in 1980. He and his second wife, Jean Partridge MacAllister, were married in 1982; she died in 2009.

He is survived by four children, Elizabeth Dilling of Devon, England, John MacAllister of Tiburon, Andrew MacAllister of San Francisco and Tony MacAllister of La Jolla; five grandchildren, Christopher and Alexander Dilling of London, Simon and Maxwell MacAllister of San Francisco and Abigail MacAllister of La Jolla; two stepdaughters, Daisy Vreeland of Los Angeles and Phoebe Vreeland of San Anselmo; and three step-grandchildren, Caroline Vreeland and Alexandra Vickerick, both of Los Angeles, and Satya Whitby of San Anselmo.

A memorial service has been held. Donations in his memory may be sent to Aldersly Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, 326 Mission Ave., San Rafael, CA 94901.


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