January 21, 2011 — Harry W. Porter Jr., former faculty member and dean of the University of Virginia School of Architecture, died Jan. 19 at his home in New Bern, N.C., where he lived with his wife, Anne. He was 74.
One of the founding figures of the school, Porter was recruited by Architecture Dean Joe Bosserman to come to Charlottesville in 1969 after having taught at the University of Michigan (1965-69) and Harvard University (1964-65). Upon arriving, he established the school's Department of Landscape Architecture and served as its first chair from 1969 through 1982.
Later, Porter served as associate dean of administration and interim dean of the school until he was appointed dean in 1989. During his tenure, Porter was awarded the Elson Professor of Architecture chair and the Lawrence Lewis Jr., Professor of Architecture chair.
In 1991, Porter became the first architect for the University in the newly created Office of the Architect, where he advised the Board of Visitors on the design and development of the University Grounds. He was also the first dean of the school to live in Pavilion IX on the Lawn until he retired in 1994. In 1996, a pumpkin ash tree was planted in his honor in front of Pavilion IX, drawing a large crowd of friends and admirers from across the University.
As a sign of the alumni's affection and gratitude for Porter, the school completed a successful campaign after his retirement to establish the Harry W. Porter Jr. Visiting Professorship in Architecture. This program continues today, serving all four departments on a rotating basis to invite outside guest critics and lecturers each year to the school.
Porter was a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, an honorary member of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects and former president of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.
Several of the School of Architecture's current landscape architecture faculty were former students of Porter's, including Elizabeth Meyer, Reuben Rainey and Nancy Takahashi. They remember him fondly for his energetic nature, inspirational leadership and his educational mission to produce leaders in the field working in the urban, public realm of design.