Architect Howard Elkus dies at 78

Cofounder of Elkus Manfredi Architects, his career spanned five decades, and included a spectrum of major design projects. 

April 04, 2017 |

A rendering of Miami Worldcenter, a redevelopment in downtown Miami that architect Howard Elkus took a personal interest in. Image: Elkus Manfredi Architects.

Howard Elkus, FAIA, RIBA, LEED AP, cofounder of the Boston-based architectural firm Elkus Manfredi Architects, died on April 1 in Palm Beach, Fla., 11 days before his 79th birthday. The firm announced his passing on April 3 but did not disclose the cause of death or information about survivors.

“We grieve the loss of Howard as a co-founder of our firm, as a visionary architect, as a mentor, and as a friend. We extend our condolences to his wife, children, and immediate family,” the firm stated.

A graduate of Stanford University (B.S. mechanical engineering) and Harvard University (M.Arch with Distinction), Elkus began his five-decade-long career with the Walter Gropius-founded Architects Collaborative, where Elkus met his future partner David Manfredi. (The Architects Collaborative disbanded in 1995.)

In a statement, Manfredi referred to Elkus as “an extrordinary friend and business partner. He uniquely brought joy to every endeavor, made everyone he met feel special, and lived life fully every day.”

 

 

 

Howard Elkus, who cofounded the Boston firm Elkus Manfredi Architects with David Manfredi in 1988, died on April 1 at the age of 78. Image: Bruce Rogovin

 

His architectural and interior design work with Elkus Manfredi Architects ranged widely across myriad building typologies. In recent years, the firm has designed headquarters for New Balance, WS Development, and Blue Cross Blue Shield; as well as the Verb Hotel in Boston, and Linq Hotel & Casino (a reimagining of Caesar’s Imperial Palace) and City Hall in Las Vegas.

Other recent major projects Elkus was involved in include Miami Worldcenter, a redevelopment of 27 acres in downtown Miami that will expand the city’s central business district by between 12% and 15%, and create a vibrant walkable pedestrian environment. The first phase build-out includes three residential towers over 1 million sf of podium retail.

The firm also designed the podium retail component of the Hudson Yards project in New York that’s currently under construction. Elkus referred to HudsonYards as “the biggest mixed-use project in the United States, and one of the most impressive in the world.”

Elkus was the grandchild of Felix Kahn, one of the Master Builders of the West, and grandnephew of Albert Kahn, the foremost American industrial architect of his day. In a 2004 interview, Elkus told Visual Merchandising and Store Design (VMSD) that his first real design assignment was Copley Place, which in the mid 1980s was Boston’s largest urban mixed-use project. 

He revealed during that interview that his inspiration for projects came from “the world out there. Like music, I get it from the simplest notes to a resounding orchestra. Nature does it for me and so, too, does man’s wondrous works, perhaps most of all the heroism of less-fortunate souls.”

Elkus saw Hudson Yards are part of a broader global urbanization, which he viewed as “wildly exciting and the potential is off the charts.” In a 2015 interview with Interior Design magazine, he said the “great question” of that movement continues to be “how do we maximize quality of life?” 

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