Breaking: Modernist Architect Charles Gwathmey Dies


Charles Gwathmey, architect of the Modernist school and founding partner of Gwathmey & Siegel & Associates, died Monday evening at age 71. Gwathmey cut a dashing figure in the modern architecture scene, designing a range of occasionally controversial public edifices and lauded residences for the likes of Faye Dunaway, Steven Spielberg, and Jerry Seinfeld. His style, geometric and sculptural but never spartan, has heavily influenced today’s generation of architects who reject the extraneous without falling back on minimalism.

Gwathmey received his Master of Architecture degree in 1962 from Yale School of Architecture and later traveled to Europe, closely studying the work of Le Corbusier. He later taught his brand of High Modernism – which earned him a spot in the so-called “New York Five” of Sixties architects – at Pratt Institute, Cooper Union, Princeton, Columbia, the University of Texas, and UCLA.

Balancing domestic architecture with an oeuvre of major public works, Gwathmey’s legacy will be remembered for his buildings that seamlessly “blend into the urban fabric”: the International Center of Photography in Manhattan, the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, a library expansion of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, and Whig Hall at Princeton University. More polemical structures include a 1992 addition to the Guggenheim Museum and the infamous Sculpture for Living building on Astor Place (pictured below), archly dismissed by critics like Paul Goldberger as “an elf dancing among men.”

Iconic Gwathmey residence, built for the architect’s parents in 1967 for around $35,000; de Menil residence in East Hampton, NY.

Interior of the Gwathmey residence and studio, Amagansett, NY.

Whig Hall at Princeton University, New Jersey.

Controversial Sculpture for Living on Astor Place; side addition to the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Glenstone Museum outside of Washington, DC.

Knoll International Showroom in Boston, Massachusetts.