Volume 76, Number 17 | September 13 - 19, 2006

Obituaries

Richard Blinder, 71, of Village architecture firm

Richard Blinder, a founding partner of Beyer Blinder Belle, died on Sept. 7 in Shanghai, China. He was 71. He had been working on a new Shanghai theater complex.

According to The New York Times, Blinder’s wife, Ellen, said he died in his sleep.

The architecture firm renovated the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and Grand Central Station. Blinder was lead architect in transforming the former Barney’s store on Seventh Ave. and 17th St. into the Rubin Museum of Art, which focuses on Himalayan art.

In the early 1970s, the fledgling firm was commissioned by Greenwich Village’s Community Board 2 to do a comprehensive waterfront study.

“They were a young firm. And there were about 40 architects vying for this job, giving us presentations,” recalled former City Councilmember Carol Greitzer. “I think it put that firm on the map. Their study showed all kinds of possibilities that we could do.”

B.B.B. is based on University Pl. in the Village.

“We have longstanding connections to the Village. We consider Jane Jacobs to be one of our mentors,” Blinder said in a Nov. 24, 2004, Villager interview.

More recently, two years ago, B.B.B. designed the planned 19-story dormitory tower on the site of the old P.S. 64 for which developer Gregg Singer has so far been denied a permit from the city to build. The design incorporates the existing building’s Ninth St. facade, while its northern half would be demolished.

Singer said he brought in Blinder because he wanted to devise a plan the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the opponents could accept. However, the firm came under attack for the design on the night of Nov. 23, 2004, when opponents plastered the entrance of its building with posters referring to Rudolf Hoess, Auschwitz’s sadistic commandant and architect, and accusing Beyer Blinder Belle of selling their souls for “30 coins of Silver.”

“He tried to work out a deal that everybody would be happy with,” Singer said. “The guy spent five hard months of work to go with what Landmarks wanted. They verbally approved it — now they say they didn’t.

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