Norman Millar, 1953 – 2016

Norman Millar, Woodbury University
Norman Millar [Woodbury University]

Norman Millar, dean of architecture at Woodbury University, prominent Los Angeles practitioner, and for several years an esteemed member of Places Journal’s board of directors, died on April 14, 2016, after a brief struggle with pancreatic cancer.

Norman Millar was a strong and effective academic leader, not only at Woodbury, where he was appointed dean in 1999, but also nationwide, serving recently as president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

Millar is being widely mourned by the professional and academic communities in Los Angeles and beyond. In a letter to the campus community, Woodbury University president David Steele writes:

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 literally 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.

Norman received his Bachelor of Architecture from University of Washington and his Master of Architecture from University of Pennsylvania. Both universities are part of Places’ network of academic partners, as is Woodbury University.

Norman is survived by his life partner, artist Tam van Tran.

The Woodbury University community will honor Norman Millar with a Celebration of Life event to be held on May 27 on the Los Angeles campus. Donations can be made to the Norman R. Millar Endowment for the School of Architecture at Woodbury University.