January 26, 1929 - June 2, 2014John Woodbridge, an architect who led the effort to redevelop Pennsylvania Avenue between The Capitol and The White House in the 1970s, died Monday June 2, 2014. He was travelling abroad in the south of France. The cause of death was a heart attack.
Woodbridge became the founding Director of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation (PADC) after Congress authorized its creation in 1972. He presided over the preparation of the Pennsylvania Avenue Plan and left the Corporation in 1977 after the plan had been completed. Regarding his resignation Woodbridge said, "I am an architect first and have been a bureaucrat by necessity. Now the Corporation is entering a new phase of implementation, I think it's time to get a new Director."
Woodbridge served as Chief of Design for the President's Advisory Council on Pennsylvania Avenue in 1963 and was the first Staff Director of the President's Temporary Commission on Pennsylvania Avenue from 1965 to 1966, meeting regularly with Lady Bird Johnson, who was a key supporter of the Avenue's redevelopment. Before going to Washington, Woodbridge was employed for fourteen years in the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. During his tenure there he served as project designer for the Capitol Reflecting Pool and National Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C. as well as for the Stanford Center for Research and Development in Education at Stanford University. He resigned his position as Associate Partner to become head of the PADC. After leaving PADC he returned to the San Francisco Bay Area and served as principal and consultant to several architecture firms there. In addition, he was the co-author with Sally Woodbridge and others of four guidebooks to the architecture of San Francisco and Northern California.
John Marshall Woodbridge was born in Manhattan on January 26, 1929. His parents, Frederick James "Fritz" Woodbridge (also an architect) and Catherine Baldwin Woodbridge, were both from academic families. His grandfather was Fredrick James Eugene Woodbridge, a philosopher, professor, and founding Dean of the Faculties of Political Science, Philosophy, and Pure Science at Columbia University.
Woodbridge graduated from Amherst College in 1951 and received his architecture degree from Princeton University in 1956. He was honored as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1974. Woodbridge's first marriage to Sally Woodbridge ended in divorce. He married the noted poet Carolyn Kizer in 1975. He is survived by her, by his sister Jane Woodbridge Sieverts, by his son Larry Woodbridge and daughter Pamela Woodbridge, and by his stepchildren Jill, Scott and Ashley Bullitt.
Charitable contributions in John's memory can be made to St. Augustine's Episcopal Church Building Fund, 525 29th Street, Oakland, CA 94609 and the Natural Resources Defense Council, 40 W. 20th Street, New York, NY 10011.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on June 15, 2014