Charles Gwathmey, Principal of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects and one of the 'New York Five', died on Monday in Manhattan aged 71. His passing follows a battle with esophageal cancer.
Born in 1938 in Charlotte, North Carolina to a painter and a photographer, creativity was in his blood, but drawing was a skill which he put in much more scientific terms, once saying in an interview with Charlie Rose: “I think there is an eye-hand coordination that people have and one can assimilate through the eye, translating through the hand. The eye-hand process is a process of both elimination and self-editing and to do it and to evaluate it and to do it again and be able to edit your own drawing as a layering idea is an elimination process that one as a creative person and as a designer has to go through.”
Having received his Master of Architecture degree from Yale University in 1962 one of his first projects was a house for his parents called the Gwathmey Residence which gained him initial recognition, he was then quickly recognised in the wider architecture circuit becoming one of
five architects whose work was featured in an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art organized by Arthur Drexler in 1967, and collectively given the nickname of the 'New York Five'. Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, John Hejduk and Richard Meier were the remaining four whose featured houses were on display.
Prizes received by Charles Gwathmey include the Brunner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1970, the Medal of Honor from the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1983 and in 1985, the first Yale Alumni Arts Award from the Yale School of Architecture and the Guild Hall Academy of Arts awarded Mr. Gwathmey its Lifetime Achievement Medal in Visual Arts, followed in 1990 by a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York State Society of Architects.
He also taught at the Pratt Institute, Cooper Union, Princeton University, Columbia University, The University of Texas and the University of California and Los Angeles, and was visiting professor at Harvard.
His most famous of works include the 1992 redesign of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York adding 51,000 sq ft of new and renovated gallery space, 15,000 sq ft of new office space, a restored theatre and a restaurant to Frank Lloyd Wright's design.