by David Burney
Stuart Pertz, FAIA, architect, urban planner, ceramic artist, NYC Planning Commissioner, and teacher died on 07.08.15 of cancer. Over a 40-year career spanning five New York City mayors and countless changes to the city he loved, Pertz became one of the most respected and influential thinkers about urbanism.
As an architect at Pertz & Pokorny and later HLW, Pertz designed housing for the New York State Urban Development Corporation, masterplans for Lehman College, a restoration of McKim Mead & White’s 55th Street townhouse for US Trust, the headquarters for Shering Plough Corporation, the American University in Beirut’s rebuilt Main Hall, and scores of other corporate, commercial, and interior design projects.
As an urban designer and planner, he developed zoning and urban design plans for Charleston SC, downtown plans for New Britain and Norwalk, CT, Hoboken’s Historic Preservation Plan, Masterplans and a new community in the Town of Islip, Long Island, planning for Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center, and plans for development in Taipei, Taiwan, Haiko, Hainan, Guangzhou, China; Yerevan, Armenia; and the waterfront of Kuwait City.
As a facilities strategist and management consultant, he led teams working with General Motors, Union Carbide, Bank One, McGraw-Hill, Merrill Lynch, and ABC News. He carried out organizational development projects for McGraw-Hill and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Pertz directed the strategic-planning consulting team for General Motors’ corporate restructuring and multi-campus redevelopment in Southeast Michigan, and oversaw Merrill Lynch office facilities projects throughout Europe and the Middle East.
But Pertz is perhaps best known as a professor of Architecture and Planning, and chair of the Graduate Program in Urban Design at Pratt Institute, where he continued to teach in the graduate City and Regional Planning program. He was one of the founding members of Pratt’s new Urban Placemaking and Management program, the first in the nation dedicated to “placemaking” as an urban design methodology. He taught extensively and developed curricula for a variety of courses in development strategies for cities, sustainable communities, and the design of the public realm. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, a past director of the AIA New York Chapter, and a past member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Pertz served as a member of the New York City Planning Commission and as Chairman of the Board of the University Settlement, America’s first such community service organization.
Pertz continually recorded the world around him with line, watercolor, and clay, and exhibited his paintings and ceramics.
Pertz was educated at Brooklyn Technical High School, the University of California at Berkeley, l’École des Beaux-Arts de Fontainebleau, France, and Princeton University, where he received his BA and MFA in Architecture.
He is survived by his wife Jeanette Ann Young, two daughters, Eliza and Joanna, and five grandsons.
Memorial contributions may be made in his honor to his non-profit, the Stuart K. Pertz Center for Urban Placemaking, Inc., c/o McCanliss & Early LLP, Wall St. Plaza, 88 Pine Street, NY, NY 10005.
David Burney, FAIA, is interim Executive Director of the AIANY / Center for Architecture.