post by Gill Matthewson
Marilyn Reynolds née Hart passed away on the 31st of August, an event that cannot go unremarked in architectural circles because she was one of the six signatories to the famed Group constitution in 1946. That act as a second year architecture student placed her forever into the history of New Zealand architecture. When I contacted her in 2008 to ask if I might interview her for a chapter in a book about the Group edited by Julia Gatley (Group Architects: Towards a New Zealand Architecture, Auckland University Press, 2010), she sighed and in a no-nonsense manner asked why I wasn’t out doing interesting work instead of digging around something that happened so long ago and had so little impact. I was to find that Marilyn was always forthright. Nonetheless, she was very generous with her time and thoughts, speaking long after the tape had run out and providing me with acerbic and pithy comments, few of which could be included in the chapter.
While Marilyn never finished her degree, her life was lived never far away from architecture. In the 1970s and 80s she was involved in research into housing and, with Stephanie Bonny, she wrote a number of books about architects and housing. She told me they would have written more but they found the publishing industry difficult to work with at that time because it was very male-dominated. She married Ian Reynolds who, as a director in the multi-disciplinary firm KRTA, redefined large-scale architecture in the 1960s and 70s in New Zealand. Marilyn argued that she always felt like a member of the firm although not employed by them because she and Ian discussed everything at length. In the mid-fifties, the Reynolds lived and worked in Wellington and were both involved in the Architectural Centre. Two of their six children have careers in architecture: Amanda as an architect and urban designer based in London, and Patrick is one of New Zealand’s go-to architectural photographers.
Marilyn attended Auckland architecture school at a time when women were told they could either be an architect or a woman. She lived to see much of that change, and indeed helped to change it. My thanks go to her, and my sympathies to her family.[Marilyn’s funeral is today Tuesday 8 September 2015, at 2pm in the Maclaurin Chapel, 18 Princes Street, Auckland.]