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Charles Gwathmey

Charles Gwathmey

(1938-2009)
American
Born: Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.

Charles Gwathmey was an internationally regarded American architect. The son of painter Robert Gwathmey and photographer Rosalie Gwathmey, he graduated from Yale in 1962 with an M.A. in architecture. While travelling through Europe after graduation, he became a student of the work of architect Le Corbusier, an influence that remained with him for the rest of his life. At the age of 28, before he had his license to practice, he designed a home and studio space in Amagansett, N.Y., for his parents, and the structure became such an icon of its time that it figured in a question on his own licensing exam a few years later.

The architect co-founded the firm Gwathmey Siegel & Associates with Robert Siegel in 1968. (By 1969 he was lauded as the youngest member of a group of architects dubbed “The New York Five.”) The firm’s best-known work included both private residences (for the likes of Steven Spielberg, Faye Dunaway, Jerry Seinfeld, David Geffen, and others) and public institutions. Their buildings sometimes provoked controversy, as was the case with their 1992 update of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Among the other museums and cultural facilities they designed were the American Museum of the Moving Image (Queens, New York), the University at Buffalo’s Fine Arts Center, and the Burchfield Penney Art Center (Buffalo, N.Y., 2009). When asked about his approach to museum design, Gwathmey once told interviewer Charlie Rose: "I think the experience is enriched by having both the architecture and what is exhibited strong. So I'm not one of these sort of 'background architecture' advocates for museums."

Gwathmey held a number of teaching positions over the course of his life, including at Princeton, Columbia, UCLA, Yale, and Harvard.

For more information on Charles Gwathmey’s life and work, visit:
*the Gwathmey Siegel site:  http://www.gwathmey-siegel.com/
*the New York Times’ index of articles about him: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/charles_gwathmey/index.html
*his obituary in the Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-charles-gwathmey5-2009aug05-story.html

 

[1] Quoted in the Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-charles-gwathmey5-2009aug05-story.html. (Accessed 5/8/2014)