John D. "Andy" Anderson obituary

Written by Anderson family on .


John David Anderson died peacefully on Sunday, May 21st, attended by his wife. Andy was born on Christmas Eve to William E. Anderson, an agricultural chemist, and Norma C. Anderson, a social worker. He grew up in New England.

During WWII, he trained as a Navy pilot and attended St. Mary's and Trinity Colleges. After the war, he attended Harvard, graduating in 1949 and obtaining a Masters from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1952. But more importantly, he married Florence Van Dyke ("Flodie"). He and Flodie then went west, driving their car "Horrors" to Denver, where the fast-growing city presented both architectural opportunities and a place to raise a family with a fabulous mountain backdrop.

In 1960 he struck out on his own, founding Anderson Architects, and began to design buildings around the mountain West. The firm eventually became Anderson Mason Dale in the early 1980s.

A strong proponent of energy conservation and sustainable design (even prior to the coining of the phrase), his firm designed Front Range Community College, the largest solar-heated building in the world (at the time) in the early 1970s.

He appeared as a lecturer and panelist on sustainable building design throughout the United States and in the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, and Finland. He was also a delegate to the World Energy Congress in New Delhi in 1983.

Andy was the long-time chair of the Lower Downtown (LoDo) Design Review Board, overseeing the renewal of this historic district in which his office was embedded, a block from Union Station. For over 40 years, he was a leader in the architectural community both locally and nationally. He advocated inclusivity in the profession, supporting women in architecture, and leading by example.

He became a fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1980, was awarded the AIA Western Mountain Region's Silver Medal in 1984 and was named AIA Colorado Architect of the Year in 1987. In 2001, Andy was elected President of the AIA, and traveled extensively advocating for sustainable design and modernizing the role of architects in society.

Andy and Flodie forged a remarkable partnership over 66 years of marriage. Flodie supported the firm as secretary in the early years. Through the League of Women Voters, she became involved in transportation issues in Denver and Colorado. In 2004, Andy and Flodie jointly received the Dana Crawford Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation. They traveled to global destinations but were most proud of climbing all of Colorado's 14ers together. The feat culminated with a climb of Capitol Peak in 1990 in the company of family and friends.  Their collaboration and lifetime partnership in all things is a model to all who knew them.

Andy is survived by Flodie, their two sons Robert (Suzanne) and David (Nanon), four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. All will miss him dearly for his humility, gentle humor, and his clear-eyed support. He was a gentleman in all ways, a model human being. Andy himself summed it best recently, raising his baseball cap and stating, "it's been a wonderful life".

His life will be celebrated on Wednesday, May 31st. A service at Park Hill Congregational Church, 2600 Leyden St., Denver 80207 (one of his first buildings) begins at 1 pm for his family, co-workers, and friends. This will be followed by an informal public reception at the Denver Botanical Gardens from 3:30-6:30 pm, where all are encouraged to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

In lieu of flowers, the family would suggest contributions to the Architectural Education Foundation AIA Colorado (AEF) (specify the John Anderson Scholarship), or a favorite charity.