Randy Lewis | Architect & Banjo Player

Randy Lewis | Architect & Banjo Player

Obituary

Harold Randolph Lewis, known as Randy, of Arlington, MA, died of an Astrocytoma on May 20th, 2017. He was age 76 and lived in Arlington, MA.  He was born in Dallas, Texas in 1941 to James A. Lewis and Josephine Herrick Lewis, of Winfield KS, and Dallas TX.

Randy moved to the Northeast for Graduate School of Design at Harvard and stayed . . . living the greater part of his life in Cambridge & Arlington, MA.

Randy loved life. He was exuberant and full of ideas. He dreamed big.

Inheriting both his father’s engineering ability and his mother’s musical background, Randy became an architect and a Bluegrass Banjo musician.

Before graduating from Cornell University in 1962 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, he and two fellow sculpture students designed, built and installed a cluster of three 20 ft tall concrete sculptures that have since become a focal point for the Rose Garden in The Cornell Plantations. Their professor, Jack Squier, encouraged his students to experiment, design and then realize their work. And in turn, Randy has been able to dream and fulfill these kinds of projects during his whole career.

At Harvard Graduate School of Design, he received a B.Arch in 1967, and later an M.Arch. He worked for Stull Associates in Boston, where he worked on the Harriet Tubman Center and Ruggles Street Station, a multi-transportation station of the Orange Line and the Southwest Corridor.

Then in 1980, he and fellow Harvard GSD classmate and friend John Olson, opened their own architecture practice on the North Shore:  Olson Lewis Architects & Planners.

They worked on projects for Charrette Corporation, hotels around the world, and in the 80’s, by chance, Randy ventured into the nascent industry that was to become known as Biotech and Life Sciences.

Randy was fascinated by these new laboratories, the experiments and innovation to create new drugs and the delivery of medicines. Over decades he designed many Labs in Kendall Square, Boston, and New England. His greatest pleasure was to combine the practical needs of the lab space with his love of sculpture, giving each project a unique sense of ‘place,’ fusing the practical and the fun. 

About 2006, he hired his Harvard Design Thesis Advisor, Sculptor Bill Wainwright, to design a revolving piece for Randy’s client, Cubist Pharmaceuticals. This capped off a wonderful alliance with Cubist and Bill.

Back in 1993 when Cubist first hired Randy, he designed a glass and steel cube that was installed at an angle into the roof, seeming to fall through the sky and lodge into the roof as a giant skylight into the building entrance. This ‘cube’ became part of their identity and was removed and reinstalled when Cubist moved to larger headquarters in Lexington MA.

Earlier,  Randy received an Honorable Mention award from Nancy Reagan for his 1981 entry for the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Competition. His entry was also selected for display at the AIA National Headquarters in Washington DC.  His design used the daily passage of the sun across the site to celebrate the birthday of each American Veteran killed in the war. Sunlight passing through 365 openings in a large wall to daily highlight each of the 365 bollards at noon, each inscribed with the names of each Veteran born on that day.

Randy also had a long history of being involved in the community. He ran kite-building workshops for kids in Boston Public Schools where he helped Clara Wainwright and her team start the Great Boston Kite Festival, first held in Franklin Park in 1969.

In 2002, as President of the Board of Trustees   |  Montserrat College of Art, Randy helped arrange the participation of artists Christo & Jeanne-Claude for a visit of lectures and parties to celebrate the installation of  Stan Trecker as the college’s new president.

In 2005 he and Stan Trecker arranged for Montserrat to have a presence in NYC for the Installation of Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s Gates Project and the college had a ring-side seat viewing ‘The Gates’ from the top floor of a hotel at the southern edge of Central Park.  It was always an event if Randy had a hand in organizing it.  He thought ‘big’.

One of his last projects was volunteering his design & planning time to Chelsea Theater Works, part of the Chelsea Collaborative, which creates safe places for youth in the community. He began a long collaboration and friendship with Gladys Vega and others to help realize a dream for Environmental and Social Justice in the neighborhood.

He is survived by his daughter, Abigail Beauregard-Lewis of Cambridge MA, his son, James Lewis of San Fransisco, his former wife, Cricket Beauregard Lewis, his brother & his wife, Eric & Lucy Lewis of Houston TX, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

 The burial of his ashes will be alongside his Lewis grandparents, parents, and sister in Winfield KS.

He will be sorely missed.