Our Tribute to Michael Shea (1950 – 2023)

By: Arch4e | 5 Dec 2023

It is with heavy hearts that we acknowledge the passing of Michael Shea, a beloved architect, mentor, and a true advocate for sustainable living. Michael Shea, who retired from A4E in 2020, left an indelible mark on the world of architecture and touched the lives of many with his wisdom, dedication, and passion for his craft.

An amazing architect and technical leader, Michael was also a past president for the AIA Pasadena Foothills chapter and while leaving his mark on the future of the chapter, to us, he was much more than an amazing architect.

“Mike had extreme pride in the sustainable garden he built at his house, his detailed woodworking, and his career as an architect and firm leader. But his pride was matched with a passion for service to the profession – as AIAPF Chapter President in 1996 – and to mentor junior staff whenever possible. I admired him greatly and will endeavor to emulate him.”
– Rachel Adams, A4E Partner

Michael Shea’s journey in retirement took him to his personally constructed sustainable home in Bend, Oregon, where he embarked on a new chapter of his life. Living on the eastern face of the Cascade Mountains, he embraced the challenges and beauty of nature, creating a net-zero energy home that exceeded expectations. His architectural skills continued to flourish in retirement as he took on various projects, including building a Murphy Bed for guests, designing a unique garden fence with stone gabion sections filled with local black lava rock, and constructing a greenhouse to protect his garden from the curious deer and elk.

“Michael will be truly missed. Not only was he our technical leader but a mentor to me and a friend. I remember visiting construction sites together. He was serious, meticulous, and extremely knowledgeable – always willing to consider all facets of a project to come up with a well-thought-out solution. And even as challenges arose, a hearty laugh always followed. He enjoyed joking around and storytelling. Despite all his experience, he was always open to listening to ideas and made sure that the technical solutions integrated seamlessly with the design. He was generous with his heart, his expertise, and his encouragement. These invaluable gifts he imparted on me, I try to emulate often… and will remember forever.”
– Olivia Graf Doyle, A4E Partner

But it wasn’t just his architectural prowess that made Michael a remarkable individual. He was a mentor, a guide, and an inspiration to many, particularly the young architects at A4E. His mantra, “Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom,” resonated with those eager to learn and grow. Michael found fulfillment in collaborating with his colleagues and mentees, guiding them towards innovative design solutions, and fostering a sense of unity within A4E’s collaborative environment.

Michael’s legacy extends beyond the walls of A4E. His fondest memories included the joyous opening day at the Rio del Sol K-8 STEAM School project, where children rolled down grassy knolls, and his initial encounter with A4E Partners Rachel and Olivia, a moment that filled him with hope and excitement for the future.

As we bid farewell to Michael Shea, we remember a man who dedicated his life to architecture, sustainability, mentorship, and community. His warmth, creativity, and unwavering commitment to leaving the world a better place will forever be cherished by those fortunate enough to have known him.

Michael Shea, you will be dearly missed, but your legacy will continue to inspire us all to strive for knowledge, experience, and wisdom in our own lives, just as you did throughout your remarkable journey.

Rest in peace, dear friend and mentor. Your light will forever shine in our hearts.