BERKELEY — Kenneth Harlan Simmons, a professor emeritus of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, died of cancer in Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 6 at the age of 77. He was known for his work in equal rights, urban planning and community development from
Simmons was born June 28, 1933, in
During Simmons’ summer breaks from high school and college, he worked as an oil field hand and tool dresser on family-owned oil drilling rigs.
Simmons earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from
He joined UC Berkeley a lecturer in architecture in 1968 and became an associate professor there in 1969. Simmons played a lead role in helping the university to divest from
Simmons also worked as an architect and planner. He was a partner with Ishimaru, Oneill and Simmons and the Community Design Collaborative, both in
Some of his most noted work included the Dock of the Bay restaurant near the Berkeley Marina, the
While an architect and professor at UC Berkeley, Simons was appointed to the East Bay Municipal Utility District Board of Directors, where he helped to establish the district’s affirmative action program and contract equity program.
Simmons also was a director of the New Oakland Committee civic organization; co-director of the Architects Renewal Committee of Harlem, New York; coordinator for housing and community development for the San Francisco Equal Opportunity Council; and project director of the Urban America Hunts Point Multi-Service Center in South Bronx, New York.
“We were both on the faculty at UC Berkeley, where he was an inspiration to students and was of crucial practical help to many of them in following whatever goals they set out for themselves,” said Sara Ishikawa, one of Simmons’ Community Design Collective partners and a UC Berkeley professor emerita of architecture.
John Liu, a former UC Berkeley lecturer and a partner of Community Design Collaborative with Simmons in the 1980s, said Simmons inspired some of his own work in
Henry Ramsey Jr., a retired Alameda County Superior Court judge who met Simmons while Ramsey was a UC Berkeley law student, called Simmons “a powerful force for meaningful social and political change throughout his adult life.”
Shortly after retiring from UC Berkeley in 1994, Simmons began teaching at
Simmons loved jazz, books and art, and was well known for supporting community artists. He was a lifetime member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
Kenneth married his first wife, Christine Morgan, in 1955, and they had two children, Margot and Kenneth II. With Joyce Redmond, he had one daughter, Annette. He married Gloria Burkhalter in 1988, and they had one daughter, Jalia.
Simmons is survived by his companion, Sebiletso Mokone of
A memorial service for Simmons will be held at 3 p.m. on Aug. 21 in the Newton-Seale Conference Room in the R-Building of