In Memoriam: Michael Mostoller FAIA

April 8, 2017


Michael Mostoller was an architect, professor, writer, and artist. Through his work, his teaching, and his private life as a partner, parent, and grandparent, he touched countless lives, always putting the needs of others above his own. He departed this life in the presence of his family on Sunday, April 2 from sudden complications from pneumonia after a 9-year long battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Born George Michael to George and Violet Mostoller in 1938 in Somerset, Pa., he was a descendant from a line of 18th Century English and German immigrants to western Pennsylvania, many of whom became rooted in the Pennsylvania Dutch traditions.

Michael dedicated his life to quality, character, and economy in architecture of the dwelling and the city. A leader in urban housing since 1965, with a particular focus on serving low-income, homeless families, and single individuals, his architectural work in this area included Karin Court, the campgrounds arrangement of housing for the Princeton Housing Authority, Trent House Park, townhouses and apartments in Trenton, the expansion of graduate housing for the Lawrence Apartments at Princeton University, and a synagogue in a historic neighborhood in Montclair, N.J.

Michael received a 1985 New York City AIA Design Award for his study of designs for SRO Rooms and Furniture, a NJ AIA Design Award for Amandla Crossing, a transitional residence for homeless families, and an award for Excellence in Downtown Development in 1990 for Cityside, family housing in renovated structures in Trenton. Amandla II, permanent housing for homeless women with children, won a NYC AIA Design Award in 1995.

A 1960 graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Michael was in the ROTC and as a Navy midshipman, he trained on the USS Wisconsin. As member of the engineering corps, stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, he rose to rank of Lieutenant in the US Naval Reserve. Michael went on to receive his graduate degree in architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

For the past 30 years, Michael Mostoller was a professor of architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a past director of its undergraduate program. He was a devoted teacher and mentor to students and young faculty. He taught history, housing, and design and won two University Excellence in Teaching awards, was named Distinguished Professor of Architecture in 1995, and named a Master Teacher in 2005. Before joining the faculty of the newly forming school of architecture at NJIT in 1975, he was a professor at Rensselaer, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia.

His scholarship and research focused on residential design, affordable housing, and housing the homeless, and his work influenced professional design, code reform, and community and political awareness. He authored and edited many publications including a history of housing design in the United States. His drawings have been published in Progressive Architecture, Inland Architect, New Jersey Architect, Skyline, Express, and the New York Times. His artwork has been exhibited at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, Cooper Union, Columbia University, and locally at the offices of Hill Wallack and the gallery at Bristol Myers Squibb. In May 1994, he was invested into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects for his work in education, scholarship, research, and practice.

Actively engaged in local civic issues, Michael was elected to two terms on the Princeton Regional School Board, serving as president his last two years. He was a founding member of Princeton Future where, as co-chair of the design committee, co-led a study of the Witherspoon Street Corridor and the design process to create Hinds Plaza. It was during this civic engagement that he met a new colleague and a future partner, Yina Moore.

To Michael, a life well lived was one of work, action, and good deeds, making a difference in other’s lives. Michael loved his NJIT family of colleagues and students. He was pre-deceased by his parents and brother, Mark; and leaves to mourn a large loving family including wife, Yina, children George, Margaret, Charles, David, Jesse, and stepdaughter, Gisela, his grandchildren Edward, Jackson, and Franklin; and his extensive relatives from his birthplace, Somerset, Pa.

Michael’s life will be celebrated in a memorial service on Thursday, April 6 at 10 a.m. at the Universalist Unitarian Congregation of Princeton at 50 Cherry Hill Rd. in Princeton.

Arrangements are under the direction of Mather-Hodge Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the “Foundation at New Jersey Institute of Technology” with specific notation to the “G. Michael Mostoller, FAIA Scholarship”, and mailed directly to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Office of University Advancement, 323 Martin Luther King Boulevard, Newark, New Jersey 07102.

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