He initially trained under the architect Hippolyte Blanc (1896-1901) and then in 1903 under Robert Weir Schultz. In 1906 after various tours he returned to Scotland and worked under Ramsay Traquair. In 1908 he became an assistant to Patrick Geddes working on a Survey of Edinburgh for the first ever Town Planning Exhibition (1910).
He worked with Geddes and his daughter Norah on the creation of A Scottish National Zoological Garden 1913-14 which became Edinburgh Zoo. In 1915 he married Norah Geddes, making Patrick Geddes his father-in-law.
In World War I he served in the Royal Flying Corps (Kite Balloon section) and importantly invented the modern parachute (and quick release buckle) whilst serving as a Major in this role.
In 1926 he founded the Association for the Preservation of Rural Scotland.
In 1931 he created a "Plan for Edinburgh" and in 1935 founded the first Town Planning course at the Edinburgh College of Art whilst Head of the School. He also advised the Department of Health on Housing in Scotland.
Mears was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1936, became full academician in 1943 and served as its President 1944-50. The University of Edinburgh conferred an honorary doctorate (LLD) on him in 1945, and he was knighted in 1946.
He died in Christchurch, New Zealand whilst visiting his son, Kenneth Patrick Geddes Mears (1916-2001). His body was returned to Edinburgh for cremation. A memorial plaque is placed to his memory on the south side of Warriston Crematorium above a plaque to his other two sons both of whom died young: Alastair Mears (1918-1939) and John M. Mears (1921-1949).
Mears was employed across Scotland but also was given roles in Ireland and Palestine.
- Master plan for Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1919
- County Planning in East Lothian (1933-1950)
- Renewal of Stirling's Old Town (1936-1953)
- Central and South East Scotland Plan (1946)
- Frank Mears pages on the website of Graeme Purves
- G. Purves, An Introduction to the Work of Sir Frank Mears, Research Paper No. 4, Department of Town and Country Planning, Edinburgh College of Art, 1983.
- G. Purves, The Life and Work of Sir Frank Mears, Ph.D. Thesis, Heriot-Watt University, 1988.
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