by AIA New York Chapter
It is with heavy hearts that we say farewell to our friend, teacher, and colleague Fred Schwartz, FAIA. Fred passed away on 04.28.14 after a long struggle with cancer. Fred was well known for his Staten Island Ferry Terminal, his 9/11 Memorial, and his loyalty to former employers Denise Scott Brown, RIBA, Int. FRIBA, and Robert Venturi, FAIA, Int. FRIBA. He played an essential role in changing the guidelines for the AIA Gold Medal, allowing it to recognize collaborative teams as well as individuals. Below are words of remembrance from those who were touched by Fred’s passion, empathy, and talent.
Fred’s passion was architecture; he lived and breathed architecture every waking moment (and more for all I know). It wasn’t always pretty, but it was real. Something all too rare today. He will be missed.
– Stan Allen, AIA, School of Architecture at Princeton University
Fred was a passionate believer in the power of architecture to improve society and make people’s lives better. He saw the best possible futures in the worst present conditions, whether it was in New York after 9/11 or New Orleans after Katrina, and fought with persistence and humanity for his beliefs. He will be missed by his many friends. There are few in the profession who will be able to fill his shoes when it comes to articulating the role and responsibilities of our profession to society in a kind but relentless manner.
– Michael Arad, AIA, LEED AP, Handel Architects
Fred was an incredible friend and mentor who I will miss deeply. From time to time he would email “what’s up,” to start a chat or prompt a get-together to just sketch. He was a rare person who helped many young architects in their careers through those informal engagements.
– Illya Azaroff, +LAB and AIANY 2014 Alternate Director for Public Outreach
Fred Schwartz touched the lives of many people, from New Orleans to China. Closer to home, his 9/11 memorials in Jersey City and Valhalla bring solace to many who lost friends and loved ones on that day. The Staten Island Ferry Terminal cut new ground in pushing embodied photovoltaics and creating a new identity for the portal to the oft-forgotten borough. But more than his buildings, more than his incredible influence on the AIA both locally and nationally, Fred will be remembered for his integrity, his passion, his spirit, his impact, his mentoring, his creativity, his sense of humor, and his many, many friendships.
– Rick Bell, FAIA, AIANY
Fred Schwartz was a force of nature and a voice of conscience. He will be deeply missed by his family, his friends, and the wide range of colleagues who were privileged to know him.
– Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, City College of New York and AIANY 2014 President
Fred Schwartz was a truly force of nature. I was fortunate to know him for many years and always valued our encounters however brief: always action-packed but also filled with energy, insight, and humor.
Most recently, as we served together as members of the AIANY Honors Committee, he was a bit of a gadfly – Fred in a state of high dudgeon was a vision to behold – challenging our too-lightly considered assumptions and encouraging us to dig deeper and think more broadly, exhorting us to make truly right choices, large and small – sometimes on behalf of the unsung and sometimes the obvious.
We have lost not just a friend but a moral compass – and he will be sorely missed.
– Mary A. Burke, FAIA, IIDA, Burke Design & Architecture and AIANY 2013 Honors Committee
Fred was a very unique, passionate, and talented individual. He would always rather walk toward the light than away from it. Never complained to the last moment. Rest in peace friend…
– Andy Frankl, Hon. AIA NYS, IBEX Construction and AIANY 2014 Director for Development Affairs
Fred’s enthusiasm for his work on the Staten Ferry Terminal (even after Bob Venturi withdrew from the project) made possible the creation of a successful public facility that would otherwise have been little more than a compilation of bureaucratic engineering requirements.
– Alexander Garvin, Hon. AIANY, AGA Public Realm Strategists
Fred always let you know what he thought – and his thoughts were well worth listening to. I and our community will miss his humanity, passion, and commitment to design excellence.
– Mark Ginsberg, FAIA, LEED AP, Curtis+Ginsberg Architects and AIANY Past President
It was my good fortune to serve on the 2013 AIA Honors committee with Fred. I had not worked with him before, and was deeply impressed by his clarity of thought, his insightfulness, and all his insistence that we not take our task lightly. He led by example, and imbued every conversation with a quality of thought that is rare. Our Honors Committee acted that much more honorably because of him.
– Joan Krevlin, FAIA, LEED AP, BKSK Architects and AIANY 2013 Honors Committee
Fred was a superb architect who brought passion and ethics to everything he did. In his global practice, his 9/11 Memorials, his support for women architects, and his dedicated effort to change the AIA National Gold Medal rules – he was one of the most inspiring individuals I have ever known. It was an honor to work with him, especially during the year of my AIANY Presidency. He was tremendously influential throughout, and will be sorely missed.
– Jill Lerner, FAIA, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and AIANY 2014 Immediate Past President
I have had the immense pleasure of intersecting into the orbit of Fred Schwartz – architect, citizen, activist, and caring human being. After the launch of the petition to recognize Denise Scott Brown for work deserving of the 1991 Pritzker Prize, I met Fred in New York, as he was advocating that the AIA Gold Medal rules be changed to allow partners. This was an important sticking point for him, both out of moral principle and fairness, as well as first-hand experience with Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi. They were important mentors to him during his studies at the GSD, and then well into his professional career. Having departed this world, tragically way too soon, Schwartz has left an important legacy to our profession, of recognizing collaborative efforts. I hope that in remembrance of him, we can flesh out a more-in depth understanding of the mechanisms of joint creativity, as he so deeply lived out these principles in his everyday life, as well as in the lives of the people he touched.
– Caroline James, M. Arch ’14, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Fred Schwartz was thoughtfully everywhere important in our architectural community, locally and internationally. He had a ready ability to advocate for the right thing to do. We met in 1990 when we taught together in Naples, Italy, where he was our ambassador of Modernism. He mentored me as a fledgling solo practitioner, giving me copies of his contracts, contacts, and goodwill. As a juror on our reviews at Parsons, he consistently won the admiration of the students with his clarity and candor. His favorite eating spot was the Square Diner; his birthday e-mail to his friends: “THINK.”
– Jonathan Jova Marvel, FAIA, Marvel Architects
Fred was in many ways the conscience of the local professional community – at least one of the most prominent; though NYC’s architecture world is fortunate to have more than one such figure, he was absolutely unique in his vision, his passion, and his capacity to magnetize others in the service of that vision. His role in rescuing Venturi Scott Brown’s Lieb House was one visible local instance of that sense of mission; no doubt the sight of that magnificent little box being towed upriver to its new home could never have happened without Fred’s timely and tireless efforts. Among all the people profoundly troubled by the 9/11 attack on our city, he had the coherent vision to translate personal and collective pain into genuine civic improvements. Some of the ones that weren’t realized during his lifetime in the city he so deeply loved might still conceivably take shape at some point (yes, cap a highway, maybe more than one of them, and reconnect us all to the river!). This would be a tribute as fitting as the famous line from Wren’s memorial, a line that I imagine is now occurring to quite a few people who knew and admired Fred: Si monumentum quaeris, circumspice (“If you seek his monument, look around you.”).
– Bill Millard, journalist and author
With Fred’s passing we have lost an exceptional designer, with a deep commitment to our profession. Always questioning, sometimes confrontational, Fred contributed greatly to architectural discourse in our city and beyond. He made a difference and he will be missed.
– George Miller, FAIA, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and AIANY 2013 Honors Committee
Some of my colleagues at Arup and I had the privilege of collaborating with Fred on a few of his projects. I will remember him as an individual who cared about his work, but above all, was passionate about our city, and through his architecture and outreach, always sought to do better for the city, its citizens, and visitors. Fred was unafraid to take a stand on issues; he was not a “path of least resistance” person.
– Ashok Raiji, Assoc. AIA, PE, LEED AP, Arup and AIANY 2014 Director for Industry Affairs
Whenever I saw Fred and Tracey, my day was always a bit (a lot!) brighter. My heart goes out to Tracey. I love them both so very much.
Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA, Editor-in-Chief, Oculus and ArchNewsNow.com
My friendship with Fred centered on our shared UC Berkeley and Harvard GSD experiences. We were both mentored by Joseph Esherick and he was my TA in school. That bond continued throughout our careers. I admired his ability to jump into large problems in search of solutions, and will miss his passion for architecture.
– Ronnette Riley, FAIA, LEED AP, Ronnette Riley Architect
I loved Fred as an educator and teacher. He was amazing on juries, always quick to find the essence of a project. Fred was a fount of criticism and advice, often pointed, but invariably based on the human conditions to be served by architecture. Everyone who listened became a better thinker and a better person.
– Robert Rogers, FAIA, Rogers Partners
Fred’s commitment, creativity, intellect, and design skills will be sorely missed by those of us who knew him and by those who were affected by his work. He will be missed in New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, and many other places where Fred focused his efforts. He was a serious and an exceedingly talented architect. His love of his profession and the people that he sought to serve is unparalleled. Fred will be sorely missed.
– Ron Shiffman, FAICP, Hon. AIA, Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment
When people will talk about Fred Schwartz, they will probably dwell on his professional accomplishments (many), his commitment to architecture and Lower Manhattan (substantial), his heart (good), and his talent (serious). They probably won’t think about the fact that he was also absolutely wonderful because he proudly bent many of the unwritten rules we live by – and he got away with it.
Students, for instance, were not supposed to be making money from other students at architecture school. So, Fred’s solution was to trudge a couple of blocks over to the Bagel Bin, load up a garbage bag full of bagels and sell them to hungry students, slowly amassing a fortune in change. When there was a Beaux Arts Ball and Fred won the costume prize for dressing up as the Hancock Building, he received his award by taking the building off to shake hands. Due to the temperature in the outfit, he and his paramour had dispensed with any undergarments. When Bob Venturi and Denise Scott Brown came to talk at the Carpenter Center, there was Fred dressed as a duck, which landed him an internship that became a job. And many years later, when he got his Fellow medal, and the AIA issued along with it a lengthy laundry list of events when medals could be worn (mainly at Black Tie AIA gatherings), there was Fred sporting his on his t-shirt whenever he was in the mood. We admired his chutzpah and we will miss him.
– Abby Suckle, FAIA, LEED AP, cultureNOW and AIANY 2014 Director for Programs and Strategic Planning
I have known Fred for a long time, since the 1970’s in fact, on the same journey from coast to coast through college at Berkeley and later at Harvard GSD. Time and time again I observed his ability to grow and evolve through different eras, he was always the life and soul of the moment, with an enterprising eye. I recall working through the night at the GSD with no food or cafeteria, and Fred recognized a potential opportunity and started a business selling bagels to all of us – he was always one step ahead.
– Calvin Tsao, FAIA, Tsao & McKown Architects
Fred was one of the few members of our profession who still maintained a sense of adventurous wonder, a social thinker aware of the extraordinary responsibility we all hold, and an activist of the ideas that can make architecture into a transformational power. But he was also sweet (behind his grumpy mask), an unforgettable friend, and a illuminating spirit who will remain with us who loved him.
– Rafael Viñoly, FAIA, SCA, JIA, Int. FRIBA, Rafael Viñoly Architects
Fred’s passing has hit hard. Irrational as it may seem, I feel it as I might with the death of an older brother. My heart breaks for Tracey. He was a lovely man with a good heart, a profound intelligence, a great eye, and Olympian professional stamina. The citizens of Staten Island, in particular, owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for the handsome, gloriously functional Whitehall Ferry Terminal Building, a project that tested Fred’s stamina like no other. We should all be grateful.
– Mark Wright, AIA, Wright & Robinson Architects