Montgomery Bird Woods
Montgomery Bird Woods, known as Bird, 85, passed away on Thursday, February 25, 2021 in Charlottesville, Va. He was born October 17, 1935 to Page Bird Woods and William Sharpless Derrick Woods (formerly of the law firm of McGuire, Woods, and Battle of Richmond).
Bird graduated from St. Christopher's School in Richmond and matriculated into the University of Virginia School of Architecture in the mid '50s. After a trip to Europe, his dear college friend and fellow architect, Basil Acey, joined him on many adventures and convinced him to enlist in the Army, where Bird was stationed as a first lieutenant at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. Bird finished his service in the Reserve and returned to UVA in his '55 Thunderbird to graduate with his Architecture degree in 1962. It was in these final years of school, he met a fellow student, Jose V. Lambert (d. 2018), who became his spouse and professional partner.
Inseparable for nearly six decades, Bird and Jose moved to San Francisco and founded Lambert-Woods Architects. They traveled extensively for work and pleasure, discovering architectural wonders and making lifelong friends along the way. While they designed many residential and commercial properties in San Francisco, they excelled at the construction of creative spaces and designed the headquarters of the advertising agency, Hal Riney Associates. Next, they moved to New York, Los Angeles and Houston to build offices for the global advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather.
In the late '80s, the pair returned to Bird's beloved Charlottesville. They settled on a 21-acre parcel of Arrowhead Farm, purchased by Bird's grandfather. With a modernist slant and nod to Central Virginian architecture, they built their ideal home – a compound of buildings including an original 1760s log cabin. Over time, they purchased all of Arrowhead Farm from the Woods family and donated 410 acres to Albemarle County in 2014. Named for Bird's father, the William S.D. Woods Natural Heritage Area is designated to protect rare plant species.
In addition to the nature preserve, Bird and Jose are benefactors of the U.C. Berkeley architecture program and they established the Lambert-Woods Architects Traveling Scholarship Fund at UVA to support young architects in seeking the widest context for their work.
Bird's interest in untamed nature and clean-lined architecture are not at odds any more than his gentle demeanor and enviable ability to twirl a partner across a dance floor. He moved through the world with manners and courtesy, accented by a sparkle in his eye and a repertoire of playful sound effects intended to bring a smile. Those who call him family and friend are innumerable.
Until the pandemic has quieted and the sun shines more consistently, a memorial will be delayed, but Bird's legacy continues to flourish. For those who knew them, it is comforting that Bird and Jose are reunited. And somehow the clouds never looked so elegant.
Published by Daily Progress on Mar. 7, 2021.