Rafael Viñoly died today in New York. His passing was confirmed by Argentinian police and family friend Elisa Carrió. According to El Pais Uruguay the cause of death was an aneurysm.
A celebrated architect, Viñoly designed buildings across the globe under the “belief that the essential responsibility of architecture is to elevate the public realm.”
Viñoly was born in Montevideo, Uruguay on June 1, 1944, and he spent much of his childhood in Argentina. He graduated from the University of Buenos Aires with a Diploma in Architecture in 1968 and earned a Master of Architecture from the same university the following year. Even before earning his degree, Viñoly was practicing independently; in 1964, he was a founding partner in Estudio de Arquitectura Manteola-Petchersky-Sánchez Gómez-Santos-Solsona-Viñoly.
The architect moved his family to the United States in 1978 and settled down in New York in 1980 where he began working. He founded his eponymous firm Rafael Viñoly Architects in 1983. Today, in addition to its New York office, the firm operates from locations in Palo Alto, California; London; Manchester, United Kingdom; Abu Dhabi; and Buenos Aires.
During his illustrious career, Viñoly amassed a robust and diverse portfolio of civic buildings, office towers, and residential structures. The architect’s first commission in New York came in 1988 with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Throughout his career he continued to work on projects in his home countries of Uruguay and Argentina, as well as in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Among his notable international commissions are 20 Fenchurch Street in London, colloquially known as the Walkie-Talkie and infamous for melting cars, and a 20-story office tower for Samsung in Seoul. Viñoly also received praise for his office’s Tokyo International Forum.
His firm designed 432 Park Avenue in New York, a boxy luxury skyscraper in Manhattan that recently came under scrutiny for shoddy construction; the City College of New York, Anne and Bernard Spitzer School of Architecture, Urban Design, and Landscape building; the performance space Jazz at Lincoln Center; the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia; and the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.
Viñoly was recognized by a number of professional organizations. He was Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, an International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and a member of the Japan Institute of Architects and the Argentinian Sociedad Central de Arquitectos. He received a Medal of Honor from the American Institute of Architects New York chapter in 1995 and was a National Design Award Finalist at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in 2004.
In a 2011 article from The New York Times, Viñoly shared his love for playing classical music on the piano. “When I’m playing the piano is literally the only time I can be completely abstract and disconnected from the regular world,” he said.
Carrió shared via Twitter that Viñoly is survived by his wife Diana and their three children Roman, Lucas, and Nicolás.
Participo con profundo dolor la muerte de Rafael Viñoly y acompaño a mi querida amiga Diana y a sus hijos Roman, Lucas y Nicolás. Rafael fue un gran arquitecto Uruguayo de reconocimiento mundial. pic.twitter.com/AAkyysQ8EO
— Elisa Lilita Carrió (@elisacarrio) March 3, 2023
AN will follow this news with a longer remembrance in the weeks to come.