Robert G. Mather papers,
Robert George Mather was born to Asa Frisbee Mather and Katherine “Kitty” Retz on April 4, 1921 in a Joliet hospital, eight miles from his family’s home in Plainfield, Illinois. Bob lived in Plainfield and attended Plainfield High School from 1934 to 1936. His father died of brucellosis when Bob was 15; the same year Bob left Illinois and moved to Pasadena with mother and brother. He continued his education at John Muir High School, graduating in 1939.
Mather took art classes at Pasadena Junior College from 1939 to 1942, and received an Associate Arts degree in 1942. During World War II he was classified as conscientious objector and was assigned to civilian service. He began his studies in architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois, in fall 1946. Trained under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Mather received Bachelor of Architecture in 1952.
After graduation Mather held positions in planning with the Massachusetts Department of Commerce, Boston, from 1952 to 1955 and the Architects Collaborative, Cambridge, in 1955. He continued his architectural career working with James L. Harris, Cambridge; Lars Erik Lallerstedt, Lars Myronberg, both in Stockholm, 1957; and Jessen, Jessen, Millhouse and Grieven, in Austin, Texas, 1958. While employed by Jessen, Jessen, Millhouse and Grieven, Mather was responsible for the design development of St. Martin’s Lutheran Church constructed in 1958-1959 in Austin.
Bob Mather began teaching at of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas, Austin in 1958 and became a full professor in 1970. Early in his career at University of Texas, he established with B.J. Winn, the Architectural Process Research Laboratory at Balcones Research Center, and directed the Center from 1959 to 1962. Mather held other teaching positions as lecturer at University of Bagdad, Iraq from 1963-1964 and as Visiting Professor, School of Architecture and Allied Arts at University of Oregon in spring 1972.
Mather devised multiple systems and matrices for the organization and display of visual and informational materials, as well as a “Program Matrix Chart,” which was used to determine program requirements for buildings. His “Heuristic-Holistic Design Methodology” addressed the process of attacking design problems and yielded “Facilities Planning Worksheets” and “The Designer’s Machine.” Mather created his theory to help thesis students in the School of Architecture, and these systems have been applied to other problem solving processes. The goal is to engage and resolve a problem through a design that has depth, plausibility, and authority.
As a registered architect, Mather consulted and worked on various architectural commissions. He was involved in Austin’s growth management as a member of the Community-Austin Tomorrow Ongoing Committee, begun in 1973, and involvement with the Downtown Revitalization Task Force, and Comprehensive Energy Management Program. Bob Mather was active in various professional and scholarly organizations: Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Association of Applied Solar Energy, International Association for Shell Structures, and the Society for Architectural Historians. Bob Mather died of cardiac arrest, July 7, 1984, at home in Austin .
Mather married Jean Neville Allen in Chicago in 1948. They had two children, daughter Emily born April 16, 1961 and son Richard Emery born March 4, 1965.
The Robert G. Mather papers contain manuscript material from his teaching career as a faculty member of the University of Texas, School of Architecture from 1958 to 1984.
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Robert G. Mather papers, Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin
Papers processed by: Donna Coates
Detailed Description of the Collection
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.