Architecture professor emeritus Spencer Parsons dies

Spencer Parsons, an associate professor emeritus of architecture, died Jan. 17. He was 87.

Spencer Parsons

Spencer Parsons

Parsons taught at Rice for 45 years after joining the faculty in 1969 as an assistant professor. He became an associate professor in 1972. He came to Rice from The Architects Collaborative in Cambridge, Mass., where he was a lead designer. His focus later in his career was on landscape design, and he taught Rice design studios related to that subject for many years.

He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan, studied at the University of Paris, Sorbonne, and received his master’s of architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Before practicing architecture, Parsons worked in the United States intelligence service in France.

He was a principal of Parsons Taniguchi & Associates, a Houston architecture firm, with former Rice School of Architecture Dean Alan Taniguchi. He collaborated with Houston architect and Rice alumnus Charles Tapley ’55 on a number of projects, including Camp Allen, an Episcopal retreat, which won local and state prizes.

Parsons was the Rice School of Architecture’s associate director for undergraduate affairs from 1973 to 1978 and was in charge of undergraduate admissions for many years.

He was named a Fulbright Foreign Research Scholar in 1994 and won a National Endowment of the Arts fellowship in 1993.

Parsons retired from Rice in 2014.

Parsons’ wife, Monique, died in 2006. Parsons is survived by three children, Sylvie Parsons, Marc Parsons ’81 and Paul Parsons ’85, and Paul’s wife, Claire Gastambide; a granddaughter, Stella Parsons; and two brothers, Allen Parsons and Clarence Parsons, and Clarence’s wife, Sue.

A graveside service will be held for Parsons at 2 p.m. Jan. 24 at Glenwood Cemetery, 2525 Washington Ave., Houston.

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.