Industry mourns the passing of architect Stephen B. Jacobs


Architect Stephen B. Jacobs has died at the age of 82.

A Holocaust survivor who went on to become one of New York’s most accomplished architects, Mr. Jacobs founded his own company in 1967 and then teamed up with his wife interior designer, Andi Pepper, to work on projects inside and out.

“Stephen has led an extraordinary life,” Stephen B. Jacobs Group PC key partners Alexander B. Jacobs, AIA, Isaac-Daniel Astrachan, AIA and Jennifer Cheuk, AIA said in a statement.

“Whether it’s surviving the horrors of the Holocaust or building an award-winning architecture and interior design firm, Stephen has led us to go above and beyond for our clients, personally guiding staff to ensure that finished projects meet customer needs.

“His pioneering approaches such as ‘sensible renovation’ have become examples of textbooks on how to develop the highest economic potential of an existing building while preserving its architectural and historical significance. “

Born Stefan Jakubowicz in Lodz, Poland on June 12, 1939, Mr. Jacobs and his family moved to Piotrków, a town that became the first ghetto of the Nazis. The ghetto housed 25,000 people and was emptied in 1942. Jacobs and his parents, older brother, grandfather and three aunts were sent to concentration camps. The males went to Buchenwald, the females to Ravensbruck. He was only five years old at the time.

In an interview with the Jewish Telegraph Agency last year, he said he managed to survive in Buchenwald thanks to luck and the help of an underground resistance that worked to save children. He spent his days at the shoemaker, which allowed him to escape the daily call, where guards would probably have killed him because of his youth. He later hid in the tuberculosis ward of the camp hospital, where his father worked as a nurse.

“I have fleeting memories,” Jacobs told JTA. “I have memories that are not chronological, especially the last few weeks as it was a very traumatic and dangerous time as they were trying to liquidate the camp.”

After the war, the whole family was eventually reunited and fled to Switzerland before moving to the United States in 1948 where they lived in Washington Heights. After high school, he pursued his passion for painting and drawing at the Art Students League of New York, studying with Frank Mason, an academic landscape painter and portrait painter.

“Everything he was talking about was architecture and that sparked my interest,” Jacobs told “Deep down I knew I was a bad painter.”

He enrolled at the Pratt Institute in 1963 and, after earning his Masters in Architecture in 1965, worked as a designer and planner at Whittlesey, Conklin and Rossant before founding Stephen B. Jacobs & Associates in 1967.

Inspired by his own experiences of buying and renovating a Brownstone, he began to design small, owner-occupied Brownstones, primarily on the West Side of Manhattan. In the mid-1970s he focused on finding new uses for old industrial and manufacturing properties and his early work became examples of adaptive reuse textbooks, for which he received the Andrew J. Thomas Pioneer Award. in Housing awarded by the American Institute. Architects.

In the 1980s Jacobs was developing his own properties using historic tax credits to raise equity to restore iconic buildings in downtown Brooklyn, then in the mid-1990s the company branched out. turned towards hotels.

He was among the first to see the potential of Manhattan’s skyline, and the successful transformation of his Gansevoort hotel in the Meatpacking District forever changed the city’s hospitality industry. Stephen B. Jacobs designed some of New York City’s earliest boutiques, including Sixty Thompson, The Library Hotel, and Hotel Giraffe, as well as several locations at the Gansevoort Hotel.

Recognized as one of the city’s premier architectural firms, Stephen B. Jacobs has since completed a series of commissions, including high-rise condominiums, office buildings and preservation projects.

“The Stephen B. Jacobs Group mourns the loss of Stephen and his absence will not only be felt in our company but throughout the industry,” the company partners said in a statement.

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