Marsha Ann Maytum, founding principal of Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and design justice advocate, dies at 69


Marsha Ann Maytum, founding principal of Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and design justice advocate, dies at 69

Marsha Ann Maytum (Courtesy Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects)

Marsha Ann Maytum, founding principal of Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects (LMSA), died on February 10 in San Francisco, age 69. Maytum is remembered for her work as an architect, and advocacy for environmental and social causes.

The announcement comes after Maytum’s three-year long diagnosis with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).  She is survived by her husband and business partner, William Leddy, her children Anna and Andrew, and two grandchildren.

North Beach Library (Bruce Damonte)

Kim Gould, an architect and longtime friend of Maytum, said the late architect had a “passionate commitment to deploying the power of design to address two of the most pressing challenges of our time-the climate emergency and social justice-gave her a deep tenacity and purpose.”

Gould continued in a statement:

Her quiet, tenacious brand of leadership is notable, especially in a profession where ego often proliferates. Marsha’s modeling that form of design leadership has powerfully influenced many people in the industry. It is as if her enormous humility gave her a change maker super power, to the point that thinking what would Marsha do is something others actually do. Her influence was never showy or loud.She seemed to prefer to focus the energy on the actual work—the design, the advocacy, and the collaboration. And the results showed.

Maytum was born in 1953. Her childhood was split between the Bay Area, New York and London. She spent much of the 1970s studying architecture at the University of Oregon, and the Royal Academy in Denmark. It was at the University of Oregon where Maytum met her future husband and business partner, William “Bill” Leddy.

After graduating, Maytum and Leddy worked for Tanner & Vandine, a San Francisco office. There, they met Richard Stacy, who they eventually formed their business with. Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects was founded in 2001, a mission-driven practice that’s since build myriad education, affordable housing, and civic projects. Her lean toward sustainable and inclusive design practices is pervasive in work, as seen in her advoacy for preserving and reusing existing buildings and in projects such as the design of the Sweetwater Spectrum in Sonoma, California, a residence catered to individuals with Autism.

Sweetwater Spectrum (Tim Griffith)

Since 2001, Maytum at LMSA has won 175 regional, national, and international design awards, including many AIA COTE Top Ten Awards. Over the years, Maytum could be seen at conferences and climate and disability justice demonstrations around the country. With her husband, Bill, Maytum wrote a book about practice, Purpose: A Guide to Mission Driven Design, which was published last year. Beyond design work, Maytum was involved in politics and worked closely with the AIA and often met with legislators on topics related to design, climate, health, and community.

Carl Elefante of Quinn Evans, and former president of the AIA, considered the practice Maytum helped build to be a model for other firms to emulate. “Practice with Purpose states that everything begins with good intentions, in fully realizing the obligations of the public trust vested in the architecture profession,” Elefante said. “But appreciating our obligations is not all it takes to deliver on them. Perseverance and passion are even more essential. I deeply admired Marsha’s open mind and heart, her excitement and curiosity in ferreting out the best outcomes, and her determination to make constructed places that realize worthy ideals.”