This article was originally published on Common Edge. Every field has its heroes. In architecture, heroic designers have often been celebrated both for their skills and as public personalities. Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Kahn were icons in the 20th century. In the 21st, Zaha Hadid was as bold and evocative as her buildings, and she became a “starchitect” (to use the industry-specific parlance), her untimely death further elevating her to what-might-have-been status. But heroes are only human, and their deaths do not automatically convey a permanent place in the pantheon. They do, however, allow for a fresh perspective on the living. I reside in the New Haven, Connecticut, area, a relatively small city with an outsize architectural legacy. For many decades, Yale has created a fertile field for architects. It is both a world-class patron of buildings and home to an architecture school that has played a huge role in shaping the profession. The school’s deans—luminaries including Paul Rudolph, Charles Moore, Cesar Pelli, Robert A.M. Stern, and now Deborah Berke—are also often worldwide cultural figures. In this same little city, Kevin Roche, Herb Newman, and (in nearby Hartford) Tai Soo Kim won large commissions and saw their structures celebrated across the globe.
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