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Obituary - Leonard J. Currie, 82

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 31 - May 9, 1996

A former head of architecture at Virginia Tech from 1956 to 1962, Leonard Currie died on April 23. He is credited with laying the foundation of the present College of Architecture and Urban Studies. During that time, he built the "Pagoda House" in Blacksburg, which was named to the National Register for Historic Places.

Before he came to Virginia Tech, Currie had already achieved a distinguished career as architect, scholar, inventor, teacher, and administrator. During his lifetime, he founded four colleges, received prestigious fellowships, restored Mayan ruins in the Honduras, built airports in Guatemala and Nicaragua, and lectured all over the world. He received his master's from Harvard, where he was influenced by Walter Gropius, who established the Bauhaus architectural school in Germany. He shared teaching the master's-level class with Gropius at The Architects Collaborative (TAC) in Cambridge, Mass. He was also inspired by the great designer, Marcel Breur, and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

In 1951, Currie and his family moved to Bogota, Colombia, where he initiated and directed the Interamerican Housing and Planning Center, a research and training institution of the Organization of American States dedicated to improving the quality of shelter and community services of the poorest sector of Latin American countries.

After six years at Virginia Tech, Currie moved to Illinois to become the founding dean of the new College of Architecture and Art established at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle Campus. In 1981, he retired and chose to return to Blacksburg, where he established a practice and renewed ties with the college and the university.

He participated on various college committees and represented Virginia Tech both nationally and internationally. He endowed a scholarship in the name of his granddaughter, Michelle Currie, and funded an award for teaching excellence in the college.

Currie achieved status as a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and in 1993, received the Virginia AIA Chapter's highest award, the William C. Noland Medal. At CAUS awards ceremony in April, Currie was presented a special lifetime achievement award. For his achievements and outstanding service to the college, he was recently named professor emeritus of architecture.