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Robert Randall Fryer Sr., architect in modern style


Robert Randall Fryer Sr., an architect whose projects ranged from private residences to institutional structures, died Oct. 12 of heart failure at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 68 and lived in Ruxton.

Mr. Fryer began his career 45 years ago. He had his own firm, Fryer Associates, at two different periods. At the time of his death he was associated with The Architectural Affiliation in Towson.

"He did a lot of city school work, and important commissions or affiliations would certainly be the Loch Raven Library, the Church of the Redeemer and the Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College," said Peter G. Christie, architect and president of The Architectural Affiliation.

He described Mr. Fryer as "somewhat flamboyant."

"Before he began designing the Kraushaar, he literally sat on a hill for several weeks, staring at the site before the concept and design came into his head," Mr. Christie said.

He said Mr. Fryer "had a reputation as a good designer who was greatly interested in the creative end. He really liked the design phase as opposed to the nitty-gritty side of the job."

In 1962, Mr. Fryer designed the Annapolis Yacht Club with Earl S. Harder. Located on Compromise Street, the club was one of the first works of modern architecture to be erected in the Colonial capital.

In 1967, he designed the Loch Raven branch of the Baltimore County public library, a rectilinear structure that combined modernist design and a natural setting.

Mr. Fryer placed the structure on concrete pillars rising from a wooded ravine and used such varied materials as steel, glass, concrete and stucco.

Another outstanding feature of the building is the interior round columns that were designed as trees to replace those that were removed for construction. A concrete footbridge crosses a nearby stream and leads to a parking lot.

"I wanted to create an oasis in the woods, a place where people could enjoy the woods but that was in and of itself a different form," Mr. Fryer told The Sun in a 1993 interview. "I wanted to build in the woods without upsetting the woods."

He also designed and built his modernistic home on L'Hirondelle Club Road, which overlooks Lake Roland.

"Frank Lloyd Wright was probably the greatest influence on his work," said a son, Robert R. Fryer Jr. of Monkton.

Born in New York and raised in Louisville, Ky., Mr. Fryer earned his bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Cincinnati in 1950 and did graduate work at the Johns Hopkins and Harvard universities. He studied with Dr. George Izenaur at Yale University and Pietro Belluschi at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His professional memberships included the American Institute of Architects, the Engineering Society of Maryland and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which oversees Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water house.

He was a member of many private clubs, including the St. Andrew's Society and the Johns Hopkins Club.

A memorial service was to be held at 4 p.m. today at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Charles Street and Melrose Avenue, where he was a communicant.

He is survived by his wife of 13 years, the former Adele Paff; another son, Robert Paul Fryer of Pikesville; four daughters, Jean Anne Fryer-Jones of Glenwood, Elizabeth E. Fryer-Coleman of Columbia, Leslie D. Fryer-McGrane of Hampstead and Jennifer Helen Fryer of Ruxton; and six grandchildren.

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