James Stix Weisman (known to all as Jamie), died suddenly on March 1 of an apparent heart attack while visiting family in Philadelphia. He had never shied away from talking or joking about his death, much to the chagrin of his children. But part of this stemmed from a real fear; at 73, he had lived 20 years longer than his own father.

The son of Dr. Donald Jesse and Susan Stix Weisman, Jamie was born in New York city on June 19, 1941. He had an older brother Hugh, and a younger brother Donnie who died at age seven. Growing up in Scarsdale and summering in Menemsha eventually found Jamie along with his cousin Louis Stix, sailing there and living on the boat, heralding what would become a long history with the Island, boats and travel.

A graduate of Dartmouth (1963) with a bachelor’s degree in art history, Jamie went on to earn his master’s degree in architecture with honors from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967. There, he was the recipient of numerous awards, including the coveted Charles Merrick Gay Prize, the A.I.A. Honor Award (top in his class), and the Paul Philip Cret Medal for first rank in architectural design. He would return to receive a second master’s degree in 1974 under the tutelage of Louis Kahn, with whom he would go on to assist in the design for the National Assembly Complex, Capital City in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Another great influence on Jamie’s ideology, was Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller, who popularized the geodesic dome, and worked tirelessly on unifying disparate elements like philosophy and the systems of nature, in order to create comprehensive design solutions for doing more with less in a world of finite resources. In addition to his extensive studies, Jamie also taught and acted as visiting critic to learning institutions in Philadelphia (Philadelphia College of Art), Martha’s Vineyard (Island Design Center, Nathan Mayhew Seminars), India (National Institute of Design Ahmedabad, School of Architecture Ahmedabad), and Singapore (University of Singapore).

Jamie owned boats for most of his life, including partially sinking 90-foot yacht The Ariadne, motor boat The Jack Daniel’s, 28-foot racing sloop The Raven, 51-foot steel ketch Namaste, and 30-foot sloop La Tonka (Lake One Design). An accomplished sailor of adventurous spirit, he journeyed the world by both land (in a VW Kombi-Microbus from Germany to India) and sea to over 50 countries, offering his architectural services along the way to large companies and small villages alike. Structures of all kinds including hospitals, hotels, schools, libraries, theatres, meeting halls, museums, government buildings, public housing, private homes, estates, and an embassy, seamlessly integrated into their environments and designed or assistant designed by Jamie, freckle the globe throughout Antigua, Bequia, Singapore, Fiji, Penrhyn, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, New Jersey, Connecticut and Philadelphia.

Much of this work was also done on Martha’s Vineyard, from 1976 to 1986 and 1990 to 2015 where for much of that time, he retained an office on Water street across from The Black Dog overlooking Vineyard Haven Harbor. Jamie’s work on the Island has resulted in hundreds of constructions which, even early on, demonstrated his philosophy of utilizing wood frame construction and solar technologies. In 1982 he designed the first public, solar assisted shellfish hatchery in the United States. Combining both active and passive solar energy components, the hatchery has been successfully producing millions of seed quahaugs and scallops for decades. In 1985 he designed and built a house to show skill, which he dubbed The Crow’s Nest. It was his original intention to sell it, but he would ultimately make it his home. Nestled in downtown Vineyard Haven, it utilizes passive solar technology with a three-story cathedral-ceilinged greenhouse as the front entry, and boasts an octagonal widow’s walk.

His influence can also be felt through his mentoring, introducing various foreign nationals from countries including France, India, and Cameroon, into his practice and subsequently, his increasingly diverse Island community. Recent years found Jamie working on his own hometown offering, The Vineyard Haven Harbor Walk Project, a longtime dream of his, to which he brought his previous experience in the assistant design of Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia for Frank Weise (another Kahn associate who trained under Walter Gropius at Harvard). The project appeared to be making headway at the time of his death and a model can be seen at the Vineyard Haven Public Library.

Even with everything he had accomplished, there was always a part of Jamie that felt he could have done more, and wished he had. There were many opportunities and positions he turned down or vacated early, including working for I.M. Pei, finishing a mansion project in Ahmedabad for Bernard Cohen, designing the University in Kathmandu, Nepal, and working again for Kahn on one of his capitol buildings under the elevated title of chief cite architect. Much of this tumult stemmed from struggles with anxiety and depression due to bipolar disease. Jamie was ultimately proud to be a survivor, however, and outwardly maintained an extremely upbeat attitude. He was an early riser, and could often be seen strolling downtown with one of his dogs (he had many over the years), to the office, or to The Black Dog Tavern for breakfast looking out at the harbor, or over to a spot on Main street to get a cup of coffee and read the paper. There were regular jaunts to the Gannon and Benjamin boatyard, mere steps from his office, to chat with owners Nat, Ross and Brad Abbott, talk shop, and see the latest work. And he spent copious hours at Owen Park (his longtime mooring location), doing vessel maintenance, chatting with harbor master friend Jay, and conceiving wild renovation ideas for the park itself.

He loved the theatre and its denizens, and in addition to designing and building dozens of sets, he appeared in many Tisbury amphitheatre productions as an actor, usually in small roles, including Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He was an avid reader, a hobbyist writer, kept journals of his travels, and filled them with drawings and watercolor renderings befitting both a draftsman, and an artist. In his younger days, when he had some money and was perhaps filled with manic gusto, he collected hosts of musical instruments, and a few of the auspicious cars he favored, including a Sitar, a 12-string Martin guitar, a GT Roadster, and the ever-iconic Morgan 3 Wheeler.

In 2001, Jamie flew himself and a crew to New Zealand to collect his latest vessel, a 50-foot steel-hulled gaff-rigged ship later dubbed Perception. One member was Brazilian washashore Maria Laura Camargo, who, along the journey back, became more than just another crew member. In 2004, they were married and set a honeymoon sail for the Azores. Son Nathaniel followed a year or so later. It was during this era also that Jamie resurrected an old part-time hobby: running; and discovered in it, a powerful tool that profoundly reduced symptoms of suffering, and increased quality of life.

Jamie will be dearly missed. He is survived by wife Laura and son Nathaniel; four children from previous marriages: daughter Elizabeth and partner Amy May of Philadelphia; daughter Tanya and partner Ari Handel of Brooklyn; and sons Donald and Zebulon of Martha’s Vineyard; grandchildren Zelda, Elias, and Morgan; brother Hugh and partner Suzanne of New York; younger half-siblings Ann Weisman Hogeland of Williamstown; and John Oliver Simon of Berkeley.

He was cremated March 3 in Philadelphia. His ashes will be scattered off the jetty in Menemsha where he scattered his mother’s, and at the River Ganges in India, the place he considered his spiritual home. Laura and the Weisman family extend their deepest thanks to the Island community for the many outpourings of warmth and kindness since Jamie’s passing.