October 1991 Home   Newsletters

November 1991

December 1991

Farewell to Reform
Council Approves Rail Transit Development Agreement (Astrid Monson)
Summary of Rail Transit Capital Financing Plan
Consensus Questions (Health Care)
Architectural Planner Donald Monson Dies (Murry Engle)
General Membership Meeting

Architectural Planner Donald Monson Dies

Donald Monson decided to be an architectural planner, he told his wife Astrid, because "architects built pretty. homes for rich people. But I want to build houses for people who need it."

Astrid Monson understood because she is a planner, too, and they often worked together.

Monson, a retired city planner, died Thursday in Castle Memorial Hospital at the age of 78. He had battled leukemia for a long time.

During his career, he served as an adviser to President Truman's Commission on Urban Problems, Mrs. Monson said. He also was chief consultant to the U.S. Government's Marshall Plan in the reconstruction of European cities after World War II. He supervised the rebuilding of tens of thousands of homes for workers who had been bombed out or burned out during the war.

He also helped develop long-range housing programs, such as one project n France that required all employers to contribute 1 percent of payrolls to a fund for low- and moderate-rent housing for their employees.

From 1961 to 1972, Monson headed United Nations' teams of experts in Taiwan, Kenya and .Argentina that set up planning and housing agencies to develop needed policies and programs, Mrs. Monson said.

It is notable that Donald Monson, who helped influence former Honolulu Mayor Eileen Anderson in canceling the Honolulu Area Rapid Transit (HART) project in 1980, was vigorously, working against the city's current rail project.

The Monsons met at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he was a student of architect Mies Van der Rohe and city planner Ludwig Hilberseimer.

He worked as a planning consultant in Chicago, Detroit, New York City and Seattle.

In New York City, he developed the first community renewal program in the country. It emphasized renovation and preservation of old housing, rather than complete bulldozing and replacement of slums with luxury housing.

In the 1950s, Monson taught planning and urban design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

In New York, Monson quit a good job because did not agree with what was being done. A colleague pointed out he would lose his pension if he quit.

"I'd rather lose my pension than work for the next 10 years of my life and do nothing," Monson said, according to his wife.

"He was very outspoken, and I would say, a very uncompromising guy," Astrid Monson said. "He wanted to do what was right."

"In the late '70s, when he was testifying against HART, Councilman Dan Clement said, 'Mr. Monson, are you aware this has been studied and recommended by some of the most prestigious planners in the United States?'"

Manson said he did.

Clement said, "And are you going to stand there and tell me we shouldn't do this because of your opinion?"

"Precisely," Monson said.

In 1979, he published the "Handbook on HART."

Monson had come to Hawaii in 1973 to retire, but was active in local planning issues, most notably as chairman of the Transportation Study committee of the Council of Presidents, a clearinghouse of community associations and neighborhood boards.

Both Monsons wrote a Point of View column for the Honolulu Advertiser.

No services will be held.

Murry Engle

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