Harold L. Pierce, age 87, died May 8, 2018 in Falls Church. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, a gifted architect and mentor. A true Francophile, he enjoyed trips with his wife and family to France. A special delight was hosting traditional French New Year’s Eve dinners. One such dinner was featured in a Washington Post article written by food critic Phyllis Richmond. Harold welcomed many to his home for a glass of wine, even dinner, and often an open invitation to visit his summer cottage in France when their travels took them that way.
Harold was born October 5, 1930 near Waynesboro, the son of Robert Leonard and Lottie Page Pierce. The family later moved to Newport News, where he attended high school. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and was eventually assigned duties at a U.S. Army Base near La Rochelle, France. It was here at the Atlantic Ocean beach town of Lacanau that he met Janine Sarraute, fell in love and married her. Harold and Janine would return to the U.S. on a troop ship, she pregnant with their first child. They settled with his family in Warwick, where he obtained his GED and enrolled at the College of William & Mary. He transferred to the University of Virginia to study architecture, receiving his Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1960.
After graduation, Harold moved his family to Falls Church, Virginia, deciding that this area would be ideal for raising a family. He found employment with the U.S. Corps of Engineers office in Arlington. In 1964, with University of Virginia classmate Paul H. Barkley, he formed Barkley Pierce Associates, a partnership providing building design services from their homes. They opened their first office in Falls Church on Jan. 1, 1965 throwing a party for family, friends, college classmates and a few potential clients.
In addition to their architectural practice, they also sought to develop select residential and commercial real estate projects. First and foremost was the design and construction of James Thurber Court townhouses, one of the first built under newly adopted townhouse zonings in the Northern Virginia area. The project received wide recognition not only because of its new housing concept, but also because the development was named after noted humorous writer James Thurber, who once vacationed there during the summers. They would later design and build several office buildings in Falls Church. Major architectural projects include The Falls Church Community Center (1978), numerous branch banks, most notably for First Virginia Bank, multi-family projects, and industrial facilities.
Harold served both his profession and community. As a member of The American Institute of Architects (AIA), he was a director and officer of the AIA’s Northern Virginia Chapter serving as president in 1977. In the City of Falls Church, he was a member of the city’s Selective Service Board (1982), School Board (1979-1982), Housing and Zoning Appeals Board (1975-1979), Economic Development Commission (1969-1973) and Architectural Advisory Board (1966-1969). He was also a member and past director of the Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, and director of the Falls Church Child Development Center.
From 1995 until his retirement, Harold maintained an architectural practice with his daughter, Claudine Pierce, AIA, who eventually formed her own design-build firm with her husband Steve Handy.
Harold is survived by his wife of 65 years, Janine Marie Pierce; son Michael, daughter Claudine; granddaughters Emma, Megan, Taylor and Natalie; daughter-in-law Madge Minor; son-in-law Steven Handy; brother Bob Pierce, and multiple revered friends, cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his daughter Kathy in 2002.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations to be made to the University of Virginia School of Architecture Foundation, Campbell Hall, P.O. Box 400112. Charlottesville, VA 22903-4122 — or a charity of your choice in his memory.