In Memoriam: Norman Pfeiffer, FAiA

August 23, 2023
We are sad to announce that Norman Pfeiffer, FAIA, (1940-2023) passed away August 23, 2023, after a brief illness. His distinguished architectural career spanned 57 years, starting in 1965 when he entered into a partnership with Hugh Hardy and Malcolm Holzman, establishing Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates (HHPA), a design firm that had tremendous influence on the direction of architectural design in the United States for several decades. He then went on to establish his own firm, Pfeiffer Partners Architects in 2004 (now Pfeiffer—a Perkins Eastman Studio) with offices in downtown Los Angeles and New York City. Rather than develop a singular architectural style, Pfeiffer and his partners felt strongly that buildings should reflect the social, cultural, and physical context in which they were located. Norman’s particular focus throughout his career was on the arts and the public realm, believing that each building should contribute to its community beyond the walls of the building itself. This was evident in the expansion and renovation of Bertram Goodhue’s Los Angeles Central Library and the Colburn School for the Performing Arts, both projects contributing to the revitalization and rebirth of downtown Los Angeles. Norman also felt strongly about the nation’s historic structures, believing that not only should they be preserved but also given new life, leading him to take on the renovation and expansion of the iconic Griffith Observatory. Other notable projects include Denver’s Boetcher Concert Hall, the Alaska Performing Arts Center in Anchorage Alaska, and the Hult Center in Eugene, OR.
Not one to seek the limelight, Pfeiffer quietly mentored the next generation of architects, designers, and planners who, upon his retirement in 2020, have continued his commitment to collaboration and exploration. Norman graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Washington in 1964 and earned his Master of Architecture at Columbia University. In 1981, Norman was elected to the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows, the youngest member so honored at the time. He was inducted into the Interior Design magazine’s Hall of Fame in 1992 and was named among the TOP 100 Interior Designers and Architects by Architectural Record in 1995. The United States International Theatre Technology’s (USITT) inaugural Distinguished Achievement in Theater Design was awarded to Norman in 2007. A formative mentor for his staff, Norman was an early champion of diversity in hiring as well as supporting women in leadership. Norman is survived by his wife, Patricia, four sons, four grandsons and a brother.