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Architectural world mourns loss of Bernard Rothzeid.

Bernard Rothzeid, FAIA, a leading New York architect and founder of RKT&B Architects, died of leukemia on May 25. He was 83 and lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

During his more than fifty years as an architect, Mr. Rothzeid was most prominently known for his skill in the adaptive reuse of existing structures.

In 1963 he founded his own architectural firm with modest residential and commercial projects, rapidly acquired major clients and began to expand, especially into healthcare facilities.

In 1981 the firm became Rothzeid Kaiserman Thomson & Bee, continuing its strong commitment to solving the special problems associated with converting and renovating buildings of all types, many of which received city, state, and/or national awards for innovative design.

Historic preservation became an RKT&B specialty with the successful adaptive reuse of the landmark Eagle Warehouse, The Sofia, The Towers at 455 Central Park West, and Temple Beth Elohim in Brooklyn.

As the long-time architect for the City Center Theater in Manhattan, Mr. Rothzeid oversaw the continuing renovation and restoration of one of New York's most treasured landmarks, an accomplishment for which he won recognition from preservation groups and special commendation from the dance community. Subsequent design work for the performing arts included the creation of two theaters for the Manhattan Theater Club and Symphony Space.

In addition to key work in restoration, Mr. Rothzeid's firm also became an innovator in new apartment house construction, creating designs for such projects as the Wakefield, the only modern apartment building in New York City at the time of its completion in 1981 in which each unit had a sunken living room created by alternating floor plans.


Mr. Rothzeid also had a longstanding involvement with health-care facility planning and design. Among the many medical facilities for which he was responsible was a major addition to New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn.

At the time of his death, he was overseeing the design of a $30 million, 273,000 s/f hospital complex for the American Hospital in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.

Bernard Rothzeid was born in Brooklyn in 1925, went to Stuyvesant High School, served in the U.S. Army in the Philippines from 1944 to 1946, and attended The Cooper Union where he received a certificate in architecture in 1949.

He went on to earn bachelors and masters degrees in architecture at MIT. In 1954 he was named a Fulbright Award Scholar for two years of post-graduate study in Rome.

Back in New York he became a project architect in the firm of I.M. Pei and Partners, supervising the design and construction of such large-scale projects as the Place Ville Marie in Montreal, Canada.

He was elected to the College of Fellows of the AIA in 1979, and in 1986 he received the Augustus Saint Gaudens Award from The Cooper Union, his alma mater's most prestigious honor. He served on the boards of The Cooper Union, New York Methodist Hospital, and the Citizen's Housing and Planning Council, and was active in numerous other organizations.

He also taught at The Cooper Union and at the School of Architecture and Environmental Studies at City College in New York. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a grant in 1980 to study the chattel houses in Barbados. He was highly esteemed by students, clients, and associates alike as a devoted mentor, exemplary colleague, and loyal friend.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Madge, his daughter Mitzie and his son Alexander. In addition to his lifelong commitment to his family and to architecture, he was an avid theatergoer, reader, gardener, and New York Giants fan.

But among his pastimes in recent years, none took hold with greater passion than his return to drawing and painting, which he had first learned as an art student at Cooper Union.
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Comment:Architectural world mourns loss of Bernard Rothzeid.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 10, 2009
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