George Vernon Russell, an award-winning architect whose projects ranged from a mobile battlefield headquarters for Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to the master plan for UC Riverside, has died.
His son, Colin Russell, said this week that his father was 83 when he died at his Pasadena home March 17.
In a career that spanned five decades, Russell’s credits ranged from such World War II projects as Eisenhower’s posh two-unit rolling headquarters and air bases in Ireland and England to the 1976 three-story, 56,000-square-foot addition to the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History in Exposition Park.
In intervening years he won awards for excellence at the 1953 Berlin Trade Fair for the design of the Republic Supply Co. building in San Leandro, Calif.; was named president in 1958 of the Southern California Chapter of American Institute of Architects, and that same year captured the national Church Architectural Guild of America’s first prize for a chapel he designed at Cate School in Carpinteria.
Born in San Bernardino, Russell had intended to become a bridge designer. But a year at Caltech proved discouraging and he transferred to the architecture school at the University of Seattle. He also studied in Europe and North Africa before returning to the United States where he worked as a draftsman/designer in New York.
Russell returned to California in 1933 and worked as a set designer in Hollywood and, at the outbreak of World War II, moved to London, where his commissions grew.
After the war he settled in Pasadena, where he worked for many years, and taught at USC.
In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife, Dorothy, another son, Ian, a daughter, Kirsty and two grandsons. Services will be private and donations in his name are asked to the Southwest Museum.