Gunārs Birkerts, the prolific Latvian-American architect best known for designing the "Castle of Light"—the world's largest library in Riga, Latvia—has died aged 92. The National Library, which was first conceived in 1988 and officially opened in 2014, has become among the most significant, and controversial, contemporary public buildings in Latvia.
American architect and artist Vito Acconci has died at the age of 77 as the result of a stroke. A visionary performance and installation artist in his early career, Acconci turned to architecture and furniture design in the 1980s, subscribing to the belief that to truly make an impact on society, one needed to be designing objects that were “part of the world.”
Claude Parent, a celebrated French architect and Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur, died on the evening of the 27th February 2016, the day after his 93rd birthday. Born in 1923 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Parent was a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris and, throughout his career, developed a limited but extremely influential body of built work ranging from nuclear power stations to shockingly unconventional shopping centers, such as his project in Sens. Described as both a utopian and a 'supermodernist' in his own lifetime, the methodology he shaped has played a significant role for his peers of all generations and for contemporary artists and thinkers including Jean Nouvel, who began his professional life as a collaborator.
According to the Architects' Journal Jonathan Woolf, "the much-respected architect and academic" born and based in London, has died aged 54. His practice, Jonathan Woolf Architects, was established in 1990 and has completed more than thirty-five projects in Europe and Africa. Woolf was also a prolific educator, having taught at the British universities of Bath, Kingston (from which he received an honorary doctorate earlier this year), the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, and the Architectural Association.
Dalibor Vesely, a celebrated architectural historian, philosopher and teacher, died this week in London aged 79. Over the course of his teaching career, which spanned five decades, he tutored a number of the world’s leading architects and thinkers from Daniel Libeskind, Alberto Pérez-Gómez and Robin Evans, to Mohsen Mostafavi and David Leatherbarrow.
Vesely was born in Prague in 1934, five years before the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Following World War II, he studied engineering, architecture, art history and philosophy in Prague, Munich, Paris and Heidelberg. He was awarded his doctorate from Charles University (Prague) having been taught and supervised by Josef Havlicek, Karel Honzik, and Jaroslav Fragner. Although later he would be tutored by James Stirling, it was the philosopher of phenomenology Jan Patočka who, in his own words, “contributed more than anyone else to [his] overall intellectual orientation and to the articulation of some of the critical topics” explored in his seminal book, Architecture in the Age of Divided Representation, published in 2004.
Michael Graves died Thursday at the age of 80. Famous for his bold, symbolic references to classical architecture and his use of geometry, Graves is also known as one of the New York Five. His work bridged the abstraction of Modernism and the Postmodernism of the current era.
“No one has made a bigger impact on the world of architecture, certainly from Mercer County, than Michael Graves," Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said. "Some people think architects are just people who draw up buildings. They are artists in themselves, and Michael was clearly an artist. He will be greatly missed by the Mercer County community."
A statement from his practice and an interview with Graves, after the break.
Jon Jerde, FAIA, founder of The Jerde Partnership, has died at 75. The California-based American architect has left his mark in more than 100 urban places worldwide, many of which embody Jerde’s signature ideas of the multi-level mall. Placing high priority on outdoor walking and gathering areas, Jerde’s reimagining of the shopping mall experience in the 1970s put him on the map. "He blew open the shopping mall and transformed it into a lively urban environment which attracts people, lots of people," Richard Weinstein, the former dean of UCLA's school architecture and urban planning, once said.
Ricardo Porro, the leading architect behind Cuba’s National Art Schools - one of the largest architectural achievements of the Cuban Revolution - has died of heart failure in Paris at the age of 89. After spending nearly a half a century in exile, Porro lived long enough to see his two arts schools reemerged on the world stage as “crown jewels of modern Cuban architecture.”
Paul Katz, president and managing principal of Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), has died at the age of 57. The “mastermind” behind some of the world’s tallest mixed-use buildings, such as the Shanghai World Financial Center and International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong, Katz was praised by colleagues for his attention to detail and ability to foresee a building’s impact on the larger urban scale. “For Paul, it was the entire assemblage, not triumphant individual pieces, that gave the project its urban value,” said KPF design director James von Klemperer, who will succeed Katz as president.
Judith Edelman, FAIA, an American architect and feminist who hoped to rid architecture of its “gentleman’s club” status, has passed away at 91. Starting her career in an era when hiring “girls” wasn’t the norm, Edelman’s work to elevate women in architecture has paved the way for many of today’s leading architects; She was the first woman ever elected to the executive committee of the AIA’s New York chapter and she helped co-found the Alliance of Women in Architecture in 1972. Edelman’s built work, also highly admired, ranged from affordable housing to schools and health clinics, mostly in the New York City area. You can read Edelman’s obituary here.
Professor Andy MacMillan, one of Scotland's most important post-war architects, died suddenly this weekend during this year’s Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) Andrew Doolan Awards visits. Macmillan was a professor at the Glasgow School of Art from 1973 to 1994, and a partner at Gillespie, Kidd & Coia in 1966. More on MacMillan's legacy after the break.
U.S. architect Robert Hull, FAIA, has passed away at 68 due to a stroke. Always to remembered by his peers as a “beloved colleague,” the Seattle-based practitioner, together with his business partner David Miller, was a national leader of sustainable design and architecture in the Pacific Northwest. You can review some of Hull’s work here and read The Miller Hull Partnership’s official obituary, after the break.
Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, one of the most important Mexican architects of the 20th century, died yesterday on his 94th birthday in Mexico City. Ramírez headed the construction of many of Mexico's modernist landmarks including several museums, the nation's largest sports stadium and a shrine that attracts the most pilgrimages in the country.
Read more on Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and his architectural legacy after the break.
Today the world has lost one of its great minds. Paolo Soleri, architect, builder, artist, writer, theorist, husband, father, born on Summer Solstice, June 21, 1919, has died at age 93.
Paolo Soleri spent a lifetime investigating how architecture, specifically the architecture of the city, could support the countless possibilities of human aspiration. The urban project he founded, Arcosanti, 65 miles north of Phoenix, was described by NEWSWEEK magazine as “…the most important urban experiment undertaken in our lifetimes.”
His own lifetime of work is represented in models, drawings, books, lectures and museum exhibits throughout the world. Soleri’s exhibition in 1970 at the Corcoran Museum in Washington DC – and the concurrent publication of his landmark book, CITY IN THE IMAGE OF MAN – changed forever the global conversation about urban planning on our living planet. His term, “Arcology” joining the words architecture and ecology to represent one whole system of understanding human life on the earth is meant to serve as the basis for that conversation.
More on the life of Paolo Soleri after the break...
Japanese architectural photographer and editor Yokio Futagawa (1932-2013) lost his battle to cancer on March 5 at the age of 80 in Tokyo, Japan. Futagawa was best known as the founder of the distinguished Global Architecture (GA) Publishing Group, which he established in 1970, and director of Global Architecture (GA) magazine. Throughout his 60-year-long career, Futagawa photographed modernist works from some of the world’s most famous architects and presented them in elegant magazine and book series. Two of his most important works include a ten-volume collection of "Japanese Traditional Houses" in the 1950s and a lavish twelve-volume collection that illustrates the complete works of Frank Lloyd Wright.
On January 15, 2013, illustrious architect and photographer Balthazar Korab (1926-2013) lost his prolonged battle with Parkinson’s disease. Although he managed to keep a low profile throughout most of his life, Korab was one of the most prolific and celebrated architectural photographers of midcentury modernism.
Ada Louise Huxtable (1921-2013), known as “the dean of American architectural criticism”, has passed away at the age of 91 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. Winner of the first Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, Huxtable began her legendary career when she was appointed as The New York Times’ first architecture critic in 1963. Her sharp mind and straightforward critiques paved the way for contemporary architectural journalism and called for public attention to the significance of architecture.
Architect, designer and theoretician Gae Aulenti (1927-2012) died late Wednesday night in her Milan home at the age of 84. The Palazzolo della Stella native will always be remembered as being one of the few well recognized women that worked in Italian postwar design. Throughout her career, Aulenti’s multi-faceted talent contributed greatly to the evolution of art, architecture and design.
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