March 15, 2023
by: AIA New York
Rafael Viñoly. Photo: © Román Viñoly.
Rafael Viñoly. Photo: © Román Viñoly.

Rafael Viñoly, FAIA, JIA, SCA, Int. FRIBA, Founder of the eponymous firm Rafael Viñoly Architects, passed away on Thursday, March 2 at the age of 78.

Born in Montevideo in 1944, Viñoly attended the University of Buenos Aires, where he received a Master of Architecture from the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism in 1969. Viñoly c0-founded the Estudio de Arquitectura Manteola-Petchersky-Sánchez Gómez-Santos-Solsona-Viñoly (MSGSSV) while he was still completing his studies.

Following the 1976 military coup in Argentina, Viñoly moved to the United States, taking a guest lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1978. He soon relocated to New York City, founding Rafael Viñoly Architects in 1983. His first project in New York City was the adaptive reuse of a former high school into the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Viñoly was also responsible for transforming an old library building into the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York.

Viñoly was also the recipient of the 1995 AIA New York Medal of Honor, the chapter’s highest recognition to a member for distinction in the profession.


Personal Tributes

“Working alongside Rafael Viñoly for 25 years, his sudden loss is an astounding shock. As someone who entered the firm soon after graduating from architecture school, I am extraordinarily grateful for the professional opportunities that the firm under his leadership provided, and for the collaborative relationships and friends I’ve developed.

Rafael believed in creating an infrastructure to support each architect-in-training to achieve their greatest potential, with the understanding that it would be better for the person, the project, and the office culture. He also extended his personal belief that architects should not be constrained to a particular building typology or service phase to the office staff, ensuring that our curiosity would be stimulated and our intellects challenged throughout our tenure in the practice.

As an architect leading projects significant to their communities and industries, Rafael was wholeheartedly committed to leading each project to be the best that it could be, often turning stones not previously looked under to identify revolutionary kernels that could be seeded to transform districts and engage communities in ways not previously envisaged, or to unabashedly borrow from other disciplines if the idea supported a particular project’s ideals. As his partners, we are working to embody this legacy as the firm evolves going forward.

– Andrea Lamberti, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Partner, Rafael Viñoly Architects


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