Randall Stout designed several regional museums, including the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, which is in the background of the picture right.
An environmentally sensitive architect who earned a national reputation for designing dynamically shaped regional museums, mostly in his native South, Randall Stout, died on Friday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 56.
The cause was renal cell cancer, said his brother, Steven.
Mr. Stout, an associate in Frank Gehry‘s office before establishing his own firm in 1996 in Los Angeles, explored the relationship between architecture and energy in holistic designs that were no less sculptural and humane for being ecologically responsible. Sustainability helped shape form.
He started his firm with a series of internationally admired commissions for energy plants, fire stations and sports centers in Germany. The structures — turbulent forms and canyonesque spaces, with sculptural solids juxtaposed against light-filled voids — were often built on tight budgets using inexpensive, energy-smart materials.
In the United States he specialized in cultural projects, especially midsize museums. His portfolio includes the clifflike Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tenn., perched on a bluff along the Tennessee River; the glacierlike Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Va.; and the strikingly cantilevered Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Artsin Birmingham, Ala.
The Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Va., was among the Stout projects that embraced striking, dynamic forms. CreditEric Brady/The Roanoke Times, via Associated Press
His museums project a strong civic presence, inviting visitors inside with welcoming architectural gestures and quiet, luminous galleries. The designs helped put the museums on the national cultural map, lifted local economies and conserved energy.
Besides museums, his commissions included vigorously angled, improbably avant-garde police stations in Southern California and rugged, ecologically friendly houses in the mountains. With inexpensive materials — wood framing, standing-seam metal roofs and stucco — he made one modest commission, the low-cost Dockweiler Beach Youth Center at Dockweiler State Beach in the Playa del Rey section of Los Angeles, into an informal monument whose roofscape of broken planes evokes the crashing waves just beyond it.
The complexity of his geysers of space, eruptions of form and collages of disparate materials was not just for the sake of complexity, Mr. Stout made clear. His open system of design reflected the client’s input, the building’s site, the budget Mr. Stout had to work with and the project’s physical and historical context.
In 2005 he won a competition to design the Art Gallery of Alberta, in Edmonton, a cyclone of a building — it opened in 2010 — that stands in contrast to the staid City Hall nearby. Confronting Euclid with Einstein, Mr. Stout took his inspiration from the aurora borealis, creating a structure that evokes a stormy energy field.
He also found inspiration in the jagged natural forms and weatherworn walls of the canyons and mountains in which he frequently hiked. His structures could look as natural as the cliffs he climbed.
“He believed, as many great architects do, in architecture as a spiritual calling, not just a profession,” said Marcy Goodwin of M. Goodwin Museum Planning, a Los Angeles consulting firm. Mr. Stout worked with her on a dozen large-scale museum planning projects, including the master plan of the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.
“In the best of Randall’s work, the parts soar, a combination of solids and glassy forms that fuse into architectural icebergs that seem levitated over the podium of the building,” Ms. Goodwin said in a telephone interview. “And the mass all seems to flow, to move. But within the drama, he always made the entrance clear. You knew where the front door was.”
Randall Paul Stout was born on May 6, 1958, in Knoxville, Tenn. His mother was a high school science teacher in Knoxville; his father worked in wholesale sales for a dairy there.While attending the University of Tennessee, Mr. Stout worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority in the architecture design department. He graduated in 1981 and went on to earn a master’s degree in architecture from Rice University in Houston, where he was hired by the Houston office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
He joined the Gehry firm in Los Angeles in 1989 and as a senior associate worked with Mr. Gehry for seven years on projects that included the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
At his death Mr. Stout was an associate professor in the architecture school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.Besides his brother, he is survived by his wife, Joelle; their children Colton, Logan and Grace; his mother, Gloria Mynatt Stout; and his sister, Marcie Stout Wasson.
While being treated for cancer for 2 ½ years, Mr. Stout continued to come into the office to complete his last project, a bridge for pedestrians over the Trinity River in Fort Worth.. His website offers a memoriam to him as well, click here to see the other articles as well as his full ouevre, here.