Adjunct Professor of Architecture, Weitzman School
What a human being! Lindsay lifted us all by championing the unique talent within each of us. He was the consummate, caring teacher, with the trust of the students. Lindsay was the one to turn toward when affirming words were needed for a discouraged student who sought him out for advice and counsel. He was unwavering in support to the faculty, sharing his expertise and talent without limit. We collaborated and co-taught lectures in each other’s courses with Lindsay emphasizing to the students the everything that they were learning at Penn was tied together and related to architecture.
He had a deep passionate love for his wife and his children. He showed it and he told me - often. I have known Karen as long as I have known Lindsay. They were a perfectly balanced couple - their love was recognized and admired by the faculty, staff and students, and Karen generously shared Lindsay with all of us and supported his efforts.
I am heart-broken over Lindsay’s passing. I think of all that he has done for Penn over the years and I miss him tremendously. However, I find myself smiling when I reflect on the amazing times that we had together.
Once Bill Braham, Lindsay, and I, with Nadia Alhasani (who taught case studies), were invited to present our highly regarded technology program at an ACSA national conference. Our spirits were high, and we joked at our similarity to the Tin Man, Lion (Lindsay, the South African) and Scarecrow skipping toward Oz with Nadia, playing a willing and ebullient “Dorothy”. We were a smash hit! The camaraderie and warm feelings are what I remember most. A few days before we left for the conference, Lindsay approached me, his jaw lowered and eyes set level, to ask in his soft, firm, lilting voice, if he could share my hotel room. In doing so, a student could attend the conference and join the spotlight presenting work that she had done with him at an excavation site in Turkey. As you can image, I was the one who benefitted the most from the arrangement - talking, laughing, and listening to Lindsay well into the night.
Lindsay and I served as Arch 600 technology studio critics for a number of years. He encouraged gently and listened intently to best guide a student’s work forward. Lindsay focused on their ideas and concerns, using his vast knowledge of design and construction to help them clarify their thinking and improve their project.
I remember talking to him soon after he was the victim of a late-night robbery attempt, ending when a bullet parted the hair on the side of his skull. Lindsay carried no anger; only hope for the fellow who he had wrestled to the ground. We all knew that Lindsay had been working that night at Meyerson Hall until three in the morning on our behalf.
Lindsay was cherished by my whole family. At the beginning of one semester, Lindsay saw me finishing a conversation with a slender, ponytailed student. As I moved to talk to Lindsay, he commented that the students are so incredibly bright and that the student that I was talking to asked very astute questions in his class. A week later, Karen enlightened Lindsay that the student was my daughter, Libby Farley, who, at six-years old, had attended his surprise sixtieth birthday party with me. Then, again, there were times that Lindsay highjacked me to Addams Hall to spy on a pastel drawing or sculpture project being crafted by my son, Alex, who was a fine art major. Lindsay delighted in their work and keenly followed my children’s careers as he did for thousands of his other students. Alice and I were appreciative when he would attend the annual party for the Arch 500 class we held at our house and lead his famous “Six Sips” toast.
Arguably, there are no words - certainly not enough words - for me to express my deep respect, gratitude, and admiration of Lindsay. Perhaps a visit to the Architectural Archives to view his incredible drawings and illustrations best displays Lindsay’s passion for architecture, love of teaching, and generous inspiration and advice given without bounds. He has left an indelible mark as beloved professor.
Frank G. Matero
Professor and Chair of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation
Legacy is a word and concept familiar to many but in the context of human and cultural resources, it is inheritance--all that is worth passing on to help inform what comes next. In older, more retrospect societies such as in Japan, people as well as things are legacy, in so much as they embody knowledge or wisdom. Lindsay Falck was such a person. In the thirty years I knew him, not a day passed where he did not share something of value. During our often tedious but never boring travels to or from destinations in far flung places-Anatolia, Lake Titicaca, the slums of Cairo-Lindsay could conjure up some relevant bit to make a connection, to things, to people. It was a real gift. With sketchbook and fountain pen in hand, he conquered our illiteracy in the Turkish countryside with endless sketches to get designs built be they lifting machines, pavilions, or Adirondack chairs. In Cairo, he taught the principles of ‘bending moment’ to a crowd of street kids while pouring a reinforced concrete beam having designed the beam, made the form, and mixed the concrete. During these trips our team’s favorite game was to collect up random bits of things and give them to Lindsay to challenge him to make something. He was never at a loss. There is so much I will miss about him: the stories, the orchestra, the drawings, the shop projects, even the clutter. Farewell Old Friend, the halls of Meyerson will be dull and lifeless without you.
Associate Professor of Practice in Landscape Architecture
Lindsay was very special to me. While Academia can be very rewarding, it can also be a hostile and competitive environment, people seem to be always on guard. With Lindsay it was different. He had nothing to prove to anyone. He was smart, knowledgeable, honest, solid, transparent, kind, and caring.
Lindsay offered us many gifts and lessons:
- His absolute and generous dedication to education.
- His joy of working with students and seeing how they engage, and advance.
- He always had a positive word for students, praising their efforts, creativity, and results.
- He was an eternal fighter for social justice and inclusion.
- His love for detail and craftmanship was exemplary.
I inherited two tangible products from him: some 20 concrete-casted blocks made by a group of his students in the plaza in front of Meyerson which I accommodated as a permanent installation in the center garden of the pedestrian street where I live (Madison Square, between 22nd and 23rd Streets). Also, I had bought early 20thcentury tiles in a flea market in Barcelona. Lindsay aligned them and embedded with perfection in a wooden frame, and told me, hang it vertically. It is my most cherished object, now on a wall in my dining room.
He used to tell me, we need more Latinos around the school, we need their character, dedication, cultural openness, and flexibility. As we did back home, Latinos rely less on the bureaucracy and institutional support, “we just go on and we do it”.
Some years ago, Dean Taylor organized an activity which she called Idea Week. Interdisciplinary groups submitted proposals to design and construct installations within or outside of Meyerson. The chosen groups would receive $2,500 to acquire materials. I decided to test my Informal Armatures approach, envisioning a real-scale mockup of a fostered informal neighborhood on the vacant site adjacent to Women’s Walk, currently occupied by student residences.
Over 50 students joined the experiment. We used my old SUV as a workstation, while we traced onto the land the guiding lines of the settlement with poles and cords. It was getting dark and we had not “stolen” yet the electricity from the neighboring buildings. So we decided to call it a day; at which point, we realized that my car battery was dead. Who to call to the rescue: Lindsay of course, who left his home to assist me.
He entered the site with his vehicle and followed the insinuated streets to the main plaza. He was thrilled with the experiment, recalling his early work in his homeland. He was early to show academic interest in informal settlements, in his homeland, acknowledging the creativity of the communities to construct their own habitats, taking advantage of limited resources, recycling materials, with ingenious constructive solutions. He was enthusiastically greeted by the students as the “town’s” Mayor. Most of those in the crowd had been his students, learning about similar technical skills and gaining social awareness. At this point, Penn Police agents entered the informal plaza to arrest the motorized trespasser, not knowing that we had permits to occupy the site and to access it with service vehicles. With his eternal smile, Lindsay remarked “this is the power of education, to always passionately share the ideas that we believe in with the younger generations”.
Every year, Lindsay would ask me to talk about informal settlements in his technology class, since he believed that our students had to understand that close to a billion people around the world build their own communities, and that we can learn so much from them but we also can contribute to overcome problems they present. I am a bit absentminded and not good at keeping agendas, I was taking a break home relaxing in a hammock when I received a call from the LARP Department; David, are you lecturing for Lindsay today at 3:30. It was 2:25. Damn!!!!! Of course.
Never had anyone crossed the Schuylkill riding a bike so fast. I snuck into B-3 behind him at the moment he was saying “I wonder where our guest speaker may be?” Aquí, Professor! I could not have imagined this would be the last time I was doing it for him. In the Fall 2020, I will offer a studio on fostering new informal settlements in three sites, two in Latin Americas and one in Africa. The course will be a small tribute to Lindsay.
Former Dean and Professor Emeritus of City & Regional Planning
Lindsay was my assistant dean for operations during the first half of the years I was dean of the School of Design. He was a one-man band, looking after everything that had to do with space and facilities. He oversaw our transition from drafting rooms with T-squares and triangles to desks with plug-ins for student computers, printers, and other equipment. Most of the first workstations were designed by Lindsay and built in our shops. In fact, he also managed a second transition which created flexible studio spaces that could be re-organized to support group work. Lindsay created the covered spaces for our graduations and designed a magnificent tensile structure that we hoped to build, but it was scotched by the university’s worries about liabilities during high winds. He loved nothing more than building things and creating well-used environments. I couldn’t have been dean without his help.
His teaching was equally effective. Having students construct scale model sections of groundbreaking buildings was a way to have them learn precisely how structures were put together. The sections graced the hallways of Meyerson Hall as an inspiration to all who admired fine buildings. He taught construction methods and pushed students to see construction and spatial design as one unified problem. A generation of architects left Penn with his habits of mind ingrained in their practices.
It is hard to believe that Lindsay taught until his final days. For all these years he was irreplaceable! He had the love, respect and admiration of all he touched. Lindsay will be long remembered.
Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Architecture
Reading Bill Whitaker’s history of Lindsay was an amazing treat for me, and only more confirmation of the great diversity of thinking that Lindsay brought to the halls of Meyerson. I have known Lindsay since 1993 when I walked in the door, through generations of students, across the different movements and ideas and people of the school. Never ever did I hear anything but the most gracious words come out of Lindsay’s mouth. Most often it was, ”Come here Annette, look at this test I just drew up.” (He knew I would salivate at his line drawings.) “Annette, have you seen this drawing done by my students?” Lindsay, ever delighted Lindsay, could certainly be irreverent and even delightfully naughty but was never damning, never ideological, never even impatient. He was always thrilled to see the quality of the students’ work on the walls: “Annette, can you believe how good our students are?” Year in year out, and always completely sincere. Lindsay’s mind was an open one. He was gifted in the translation of the matter of buildings into the stuff of drawings. But he could also work backwards. Knowing that students were not yet able to imagine material reality from the abstraction of a line in a wall section, he would cart in a full-scale wall section that he had built up himself to illustrate the point. Literally “cart in,” in a little wagon or a dolly. I imagine that from then on students knew exactly that that thin line on their wall section was actually a thick piece of waterproofing. So while his knowledge was about construction, his talent was in knowing the deep tricks between envisioning and imagining material and knowing how to represent it, and therefore build it. His generosity was certainly extended to me personally as well. Somehow he always kept track of what I was thinking about, always engaged me in it, in the halls, in my office. He once brought in 15 years of original copies of Architectural Design for me, from 1960–1975, knowing that I would almost faint. Lindsay, the monitor of the hallways, the cypher of students’ imagination, the ever-present witness to the work at Penn, he was the heart of our school. Oh my friend, how I will miss you.
Miller Professor and Chair of Architecture
In the 2020 graduation ceremony held on May 16th, the faculty and graduating students of the Department of Architecture joined me in a tribute for Lindsay Falck. We were the lucky ones to have Lindsay for over 37 years in the Department of Architecture. His teaching and especially his case study course was legendary and the physical student models lining the hallways of Meyerson were phenomenal. Each year Lindsay would refresh them, and let us all know: “ I could remove them anytime”. Of course, this never happened as we all loved those models, and the amazing precision and dedication they presented.
In 2014, during my second year as chair, Lindsay turned 80. I produced a book for him as a present, and the reactions blew me away. I sent a note to all the faculty, current students, and alumni from many many years ago, and I was amazed that almost instantly we received a storm of messages, drawings, and beautiful notes. We bound all these in an 83 page book that we presented on his birthday. It was an amazing celebration with Lindsay, his friends, colleagues and family.
As we said goodbye to all of our graduating students and we welcome them as alumni, we did not know we were also saying our farewell to Lindsay as we were thanking him for the amazing time he spent with us.... Lindsay was the most fantastic and warm person, an amazing teacher who we will miss dearly.
Meredith Keller (MSHP'09)
Lindsay seemed like a person who would live forever, which makes his loss unfathomable. Our thirteen years of friendship spanned just a small fraction of his long and extraordinary life. Even so, he frequently and fondly recalled our summers working together in Turkey, calling me on occasion to remind me how much I was appreciated. He was an endless source of encouragement, jokes, life stories, optimism, energy, kindness, and wisdom. He will be sorely missed by many. Big hugs to you, Lindsay!