September 13, 2010

By Raymond R. Heinrich, AIA

There are times in a man’s life when you meet another, and find something familiar, at ease, at home, knowing and trusting. Nothing said, you look at his work and he looks at yours and you nod to each other. There are times when an Architect surveys the professional scene and ranks a few colleagues at the top by whatever qualities that are deemed important. One’s ideal standard of aspiration. Leo Halpin Mahony, Sr. was there.

At Rutgers University, where I had been teaching, Leo designed the Cook College Student Center to host landscape architects and environmental specialists. Built in a wooded area, the integration of outdoors and in was seamless. The structure spoke of its occupants, their education and their relationship with all of the life sciences. The results here were an act of love and that was in fact, was Leo.

We had briefly discussed joining in partnership, but I found myself instead, heading the NJ Division of Housing and Development. Through the 40 odd years since, I have sorely regretted that irreplaceable missed opportunity to work closely with Leo. However, now in retrospect, I can recall recognizing that his partner John M. Zvosec, AIA as a member of AIA-NJ Board and as a NJ State Director, I had some discretionary demonstration grant funds, and that AIA-NJ was in fact a non-profit corporation. The outcome of that composition resulted in Mahoney-Zvosec leading AIA-NJ into a statewide competition to design and build what became the high rise Architects’ Housing for Seniors in downtown Trenton. Perhaps in a way we then again nodded to one another.

By Jerome Leslie Eben, AIA

Very much like Ray’s words above, Leo put me at ease as a new employee of the firm Mahony-Zvosec in 1972, when after several weeks, I nervously asked, “can I join the AIA, Mr. Mahony?” His immediate reply was “you can call me Leo and be my guest at an AIA Central Chapter meeting this Thursday evening!” My AIA experience began, I have never looked back, and the credit belongs to Leo for that initial invitation.

While in his office, he nurtured my career and most certainly was more a teacher than employer. I can remember him coming to my drafting board with that roll of canary sketch and a felt tip pen working with me to solve some architectural problem. Like today, those were tough times and when the firm could not keep me on, he found a position for me at the office of Max O. Urbahn in New York City and my on the job training was able to continue.

Leo was from Baldwin, New York and after four years of military service, some of it in Korea; he was discharged with the rank of Tech. Sgt. (a rare elevation in rank to achieve in such a short period of service) from the United States Air Force. He returned, attended and graduated Pratt Institute in 1958 with a B. Arch. From 1962-’67 he practiced as a principal of Leo H. Mahony, Architect finally forming a partnership with John M. Zvosec, AIA in 1967.

Some of his more notable projects were Our Lady of Mercy Church, in South Bound Brook, Our Lady of Calvary Retreat House in Farmington, Ct, the South Brunswick Public Library, St. Anthony’s Church and School in Hightstown St. Luke’s Church and Rectory in North Plainfield. When I was with the firm they were finishing up the Math and Science Building at Montclair State and continuing with the theme of integration of outdoors, the wooded area where he created the several buildings that form the campus of Ramapo College are a reflection in the mirrored glass façade.

Records secured from national showed his desire to move his membership from New York to New Jersey once he settled here and AIACentral and AIANJ were all the better for this transfer. Leo’s service to our organization did not stop with his term as our President in 1980 and his commitment with leadership training and committee work continued long after.

His efforts for his fellow citizen extended beyond the practice of his profession with his involvement in the Jaycees, Boy Scouts, involvement on his local zoning board of adjustment and numerous other civic minded causes.

With his passing AIA-NJ has made in accordance with our Bereavement Policy a donation to the AIA-NJ Scholarship Foundation. Members and others who want to honor the memory of Leo Halpin Mahony, Sr, AIA can make their own donations to this worthy fund, which in turn will help young people in their education to become an architect. Checks may be sent in care of Robert Zaccone, AIA, President of AIA-NJ Scholarship Foundation.

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