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In Remembrance

December 21, 2011

The architecture and design profession lost many notable figures in 2011. We profile some of the leading minds who left an enduring mark on the community and the world at large. Post tributes to these innovators and others who passed away this year in the comment section below.

By Jenna M. McKnight

Wellington “Duke” Reiter
Ray Anderson
Photo courtesy Interface Flor

Ray Anderson, the founder and chairman of Interface who passionately advocated the business case for sustainability, died at his Atlanta home on August 8 after a 20-month-long battle with liver cancer. He was 77 years old. Born in Georgia, Anderson founded his company in 1973, producing the nation’s first free-lay carpet tiles. After reading Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce in the 1990s, he embarked on a crusade to drastically lessen his company’s environmental impact through the use of recycled products and renewable energy. Anderson received innumerable honors and was oft-referred to as the “greenest CEO in America.”


Larry Bogdanow
Larry Bogdanow
Photo courtesy Bogdanow Partners Architects

Larry Bogdanow, a New York City restaurant designer known for creating cozy yet elegant spaces, died from a brain tumor on June 29 at the age of 64. Born in Houston, Bogdanow earned degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and Pratt Institute. In 1978, he established his own firm, New City Designs, which evolved into Bogdanow Partners Architects. A nature lover, Bogdanow had a knack for creating stylish spaces out of inexpensive materials and often incorporated salvaged elements. His notable projects include Union Square Cafe, City Hall Restaurant, and the Wild Blue, which was located on the 107th floor of World Trade Center and was destroyed on September 11, 2001.


Larry Bogdanow
Bernard Cywinski
Photo courtesy Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Bernard Cywinski, a founding principal of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, died on March 2 in Philadelphia, his longtime home, after fighting cancer for more than a decade. He was 70 years old. Raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Cywinski earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Columbia. He was lauded for his exemplary drawing skills and his philosophy that architecture is the work of many people, not one individual. His portfolio includes the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia and buildings at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Haverford College.


Douglas Garofalo
Douglas Garofalo
Photo courtesy Douglas Garofalo Architects

Douglas Garofalo passed away at his Chicago home on July 31, the day before his 53rd birthday and five years after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Born in Schenectady, New York, Garofalo earned architecture degrees from the University of Notre Dame and Yale. He was known as an unassuming architect with tremendous vision and talent, and was among the first in the United States to employ digital design technologies. In 2000, Architectural Record named Garofalo Architects a Design Vanguard firm. His notable projects include the Korean Presbyterian Church in Queens, New York (with Greg Lynn and Michael McInturf), and the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago.


Sylvia Harris
Sylvia Harris
Photo courtesy Citizen research & design

Sylvia Harris, a civic-minded designer revered for her serene spirit, generous nature, and visionary ideas, died of heart complications on July 24 at the age of 57. Harris, a Virginia native, studied graphic design at Yale in the late 1970s. Shortly after graduating, she and two classmates founded the multidisciplinary firm, Two Twelve Associates. In the 1990s, she branched out on her own to establish an eponymous firm, later rebranded as Citizen Research & Design. Harris also served as the director of the AIGA national board and helped establish the Public Policy Lab, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization.


Ralph Lerner
Ralph Lerner
Photo courtesy Princeton University

Ralph Lerner, 61, former dean of Princeton’s architecture school (1989–2002), died of brain cancer on May 7. Lerner earned degrees from the Cooper Union and Harvard. His firm, established in 1975, gained attention in 1986 for winning the competition to design New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (still in construction). A discerning leader, Lerner elevated the status of Princeton’s architecture program through revamping its curriculum and recruiting esteemed professors. In 2008, he became dean of the University of Hong Kong’s architecture department; he stepped down in April.


Detlef Mertins
Detlef Mertins
Photo courtesy Keller Easterling

Detlef Mertins, a renowned professor of architectural history and theory at the University of Pennsylvania, passed away on January 13 at the age of 56. The cause of death was cancer. Born in Germany, Mertins earned a B.Arch. from the University of Toronto and a PhD in architecture from Princeton. He taught for many years in Ontario before serving as chair of PennDesign’s architecture department from 2003 to 2008. Known for his encyclopedic memory and razor-sharp intellect, Mertins wrote several books, including The Presence of Mies (1996). His latest, G: An Avant-Garde Journal of Art, Architecture, Design, and Film, 1923–1926, was published in December 2010.


Lauretta Vinciarelli
Lauretta Vinciarelli
Photo © Christa Ballantine

Lauretta Vinciarelli, a distinguished artist and professor, died on August 3 at her New York home following a long battle with cancer. Born in 1943 in Italy, Vinciarelli studied architecture at the Sapienza University of Rome and moved to New York in 1980. She is revered for her masterful watercolor paintings of imagined spaces composed of form and light. Her work is in the permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art and SFMOMA, among other institutions. A much-admired professor, Vinciarelli taught at City College, Pratt University, and Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

This story appears in the December 2011 issue of Architectural Record.

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