Roy Mason (architect)

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Roy Mason with a model of the Xanadu home

Roy Mason (June 29, 1938 – May 19, 1996) was an American lecturer, writer, and futuristic architect who designed and built a variety of futuristic homes and other buildings in the 1970s and 1980s using low cost materials and alternative energy sources. Always forward looking, in 1978 Mason created plans for a fifty-home community of solar-powered houses in Columbia, Maryland, that was to be called "Solar Village".[1] Mason invented architronics, which was exemplified in his Xanadu homes. Mason was a founding member of the World Future Society, the publisher of Futurist Magazine.[2] He also co-designed their first logo.[3] In the 1980s Mason was the architecture editor of the Futurist magazine. He was also the first executive director of the Home Automation Association.

Mason was very interested in modern education. He designed a sprayed foam building for an experimental college called College of the Potomac in Paris, Virginia, in 1971.[4] He also donated his time and talents to the Capital Children's Museum in Washington, D.C., where he created several forward-looking exhibits.[5]

Mason worked and lived most of his life in and around Washington, D.C. In 1996, at age 57, he was killed by a man named Christopher Robin Hatton at the architect's home in the 4200 block of Military Road NW.[6] Christopher Hatton, in a drug-induced rage and demanding money from Mason, bludgeoned Mason with a hammer twenty-five times (per the autopsy). Christopher Robin Hatton was sentenced to fourteen years for the murder of Roy Mason. Mason's lover of many years, Brian Carneal, had died a year earlier of complications related to HIV. When Mason wasn't in Washington, D.C., he and Carneal resided in Delaware at their Dupont Estate.

Career[edit]

Before entering his career of architecture and design, Mason received a master's degree from the Yale University School of Architecture. Mason was interested in futuristic homes that use alternative materials which make it easier to build homes and more affordable. Mason also favored the concept of computer automated homes which he demonstrated in his Xanadu homes with Bob Masters.

During the mid 1980s the Bell System was being organized for a breakup into 7 Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs), also known as "Baby Bells". A new company, Arlington-based Intelligent Building Information Systems (iBis) was formed by entrepreneur Tom Colligan whose telecom career included a brief stint with United Technologies' intelligent building endeavor. His vision was to create a hub and spoke network of office building complexes that not only took advantage of new telecom network technologies but incorporated central computer efficiency within the building's or office park's infrastructure. Those elements included HVAC environmental systems, elevator controls, fire and safety and security systems. The term Shared Tenant Services was also introduced to help lure tenants into an infrastructure that would allow central computing and communications into the formula. À la carte phone charges and PBXs were expensive business charges at the time and PCs were just being introduced at that time.

An article in MIS Week and the Washington Post gained the attention of Roy Mason. Roy and Tom shared futuristic visions that would someday include intelligent homes. Roy was immediately enveloped into the strategic business plan process and lent his experience to iBis' corporate resume. He became a spokesman for the company, often holding seminars for contractor/developers interested in offering services beyond the brick and mortar.

In 1984, iBis signed a contract with NYNEX (now Verizon) to offer tenant network services nationwide. The contract included network switches and a national sales campaign plus $10 million in startup cash for iBis. Nine months later, the 1984 Modified Final Judgement by Judge Green disallowed the newly formed RBOCs to offer voice and data services. The NYNEX contract was nullified immediately, leaving little time to find a backup investor. The data network part of the business plan later resurfaced as Data America, minority funded by individual investors loyal to iBis and anchored by Northern Telecom.

Works[edit]

Star Castle
  • Xanadu (1979–1983) visitor attraction franchises built from insulation
  • "Star Castle" in New Fairfield, Connecticut
  • Experimental school built from insulation in Virginia
  • The "Mushroom House" in Bethesda, MD outside Washington, D.C.
  • Exhibits for the Capital Children's Museum
Concepts
  • Several dome shelter designs for homes
  • Solar Village

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Wilmann,John B. "Columbia Solar Subdivision Planned", The Washington Post, April 29, 1978, pg. E18.
  2. ^ "Roy Mason, Obituary", The Futurist, September–October 1996.
  3. ^ Cornish, Edward, "The World Future Society's Emergence from Dream to Reality", The Futurist, Mar-April 2007, p.40.
  4. ^ Virginia State Council of Higher Education
  5. ^ White, Jean M. "What Goes On In a Red Firebox?", The Washington Post, September 29, 1977, pg. D1.
  6. ^ "Guilty Plea in NW Slaying." The Washington Post. Washingtonpost Newsweek Interactive. 1997. HighBeam Research. 13 Feb. 2016 <https://www.highbeam.com>.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Roy Mason at Wikimedia Commons