Bernard Marson, who as an architect and developer figured prominently in the transformation of a Lower Manhattan industrial district into SoHo, an affordable neighborhood for artists to work and live before it evolved into an enclave of chic boutiques, celebrity bars and overpriced apartments, died on July 9 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 91.
His death was confirmed by his son, Alexander.
“Mr. Marson was responsible almost single-handedly for the growth of New York City’s SoHo into an artist community and historic district,” Raquel Ramati, who headed the Urban Design Group in Mayor John V. Lindsay’s administration, said in recommending him for a fellowship with the American Institute of Architects.
Mr. Marson was already a prominent architect in the late 1970s when he happened upon the South Houston Industrial District, a 50-block area of five-and-six-story buildings, many with elegant 19th-century cast iron facades. The district had just been spared the wrecking ball when Robert Moses’s plans for a Lower Manhattan Expressway were revoked.
passed legislation that Carl Weisbrod, director of New York City’s Office of Loft Enforcement, said would protect 90 percent of loft tenants, including those in the major loft neighborhoods like SoHo, Tribeca and NoHo in Lower Manhattan.
Anthony Schirripa, who was president of the American Institute of Architects’ New York chapter in 2010, described Mr. Marson at the time as “a critical player in the transformation of SoHo from its sweatshop past to its jewel-like present.”
housing the Frick Collection while the Frick museum nearby is being renovated.
In his own practice, Mr. Marson was notably commissioned to renovate the 1920s Montauk Manor, the Tudor Revival hotel on the East End of Long Island designed by Schultz and Weaver and built by Carl G. Fisher, who developed Miami Beach, when the hotel was converted into condominiums in the 1970s.
He married Ellen Sue Engelson in 1978. In addition to their son, she survives him, along with their daughter, Eve; and two grandchildren. The couple moved to California in 2017.