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In memoriam: Randell Makinson, 81

Randell Makinson held a 26-year directorship at The Gamble House, also known as the David B. Gamble House, located in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo/Michael Higgins)

Randell Makinson ’56, for decades the acknowledged expert on the work of architects Charles and Henry Greene, died of cancer on Aug. 13 in Pasadena, Calif. He was 81.

Makinson, who graduated from the USC School of Architecture, returned to the university in 1958 and stayed until 1992. He was a member of the architecture faculty and then director of The Gamble House, the 1908 Greene & Greene masterpiece that he helped save from demolition at a time when the Greenes’ work was relatively unknown. Upon retirement, Makinson was given the title of director emeritus.

Makinson championed the house and its significance to the city of Pasadena and the School of Architecture, and it was deeded to both by Gamble family heirs in 1966. Under Makinson’s 26-year directorship, The Gamble House became an international model for authentic architectural sites, containing nearly all of its original, architect-designed furnishings. Makinson also developed a model volunteer organization, made the house accessible to the public and scholars, and positioned the house and its operations to be economically independent. The Makinson model has been used on properties in Chicago, Buffalo, N.Y., New York City, Seattle and other American cities as well as in Scotland and Japan.

Another initiative undertaken by Makinson was the establishment of The Huntington Library’s permanent Greene and Greene Exhibit and Archives. He also worked on important arts and crafts and architecture exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Cleveland Museum of Art, among others.

He authored six books on the Greene brothers and their architecture, as well as chapters in other books and publications. His books include A Guide to the Work of Greene and Greene (1974); Greene & Greene: Architecture as a Fine Art (1977); Greene & Greene: Furniture and Related Designs (1979); Greene & Greene: The Passion and the Legacy (1998); Greene & Greene: The Blacker House (2000), which he wrote with photographer Thomas Heinz and actor Brad Pitt; and Greene & Greene: Creating a Style (2004), with Heinz.

His awards included an honorary American Institute of Architects (AIA) designation in the late 1990s, an honorary Millennium Recognition Design Award from the Pasadena/Foothill chapter of the AIA, a key to the city of Pasadena in 1992 and a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the USC Architectural Guild in 1997.

Makinson was born on June 29, 1932, in Los Angeles and was raised in Glendale, Calif. He is survived by a sister, several cousins, a niece and a nephew, seven great-nieces and great-nephews, and several godchildren.

Services will be held on Aug. 24 at 9 a.m. at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles 90068.

In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested in his name to The Gamble House, 4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena, Calif., 91103.

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