Architect Hugh Hardy Dies at 84

Hugh Hardy, FAIA

Architect Hugh Hardy, FAIA, known for theater design, as well as his overall influence on the architecture profession, the historic preservation movement, and urbanism in New York, died on Friday at age 84.

On March 15, he fell while getting out of a cab in New York. With his wife Tiziana Hardy, he proceeded to go to a dance performance in the Joyce Theater, which he had renovated. There, he lost consciousness. He was taken to a hospital and died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Hardy launched three firms over the course of his career, beginning with Hugh Hardy & Associates in 1962, Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates in 1967, and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture in 2004. He had remained active as founding partner of H3. Hardy and his team at Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer received the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Architecture Firm Award in 1981.

His firm H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture posted a statement on its web site, which noted: “Throughout his legendary career guiding Hugh Hardy Associates, Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, and then H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, Hugh championed extraordinary experiences and community, over style and form making. His approach was genuinely collaborative, never single minded, and always with an eye toward the future.”

Hardy (right) with Norman Pfeiffer (left) and Malcolm Holzman (center) in 1965.

His portfolio includes some of New York’s most iconic cultural institutions such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, the Joyce Theater and the Lincoln Center Theater in Manhattan. His restorations of the New Victory and New Amsterdam theaters in New York were key elements in rejuvenating 42nd Street. In The New York Times in 1995, Julie Iovine, wrote “There is scarcely a cultural icon in the city with which Mr. Hardy has not been involved.”

Radio City Music Hall in New York, renovated in 1999.

In 1999, he completed a $70 million restoration of Radio City Music Hall. Reviewing the restoration in The New York Times, the late Herbert Muschamp wrote, “…the restoration does more than scour away the tarnish that had built up in the 67 years since the music hall opened. Mr. Hardy has also given the city a matchless lesson in the difference between historic preservation and theme-park simulation. He has offered this lesson twice before, at the New Amsterdam and New Victory theaters on 42nd Street. But the distinction cannot be restated too often. Today many preservationists are content to watch New York subside into a Disneyfied version of itself. Mr. Hardy’s faithful restoration of the music hall restores the importance of authenticity in a city flooded with fakes.”

Here is a CBS Sunday Morning segment about Hugh Hardy that aired in October 1999, when his renovation of Radio City Music Hall was completed.


Interior of BAM in Brooklyn.

Hardy’s historic restoration projects ranged from various libraries including the Los Angeles Central Library and the New Haven Public Library to well-known spaces such as the New York Stock Exchange and the Plaza Hotel in New York. In 1996, he redesigned the restaurant Windows on the World at the top of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed on 9/11. Hardy had also executed projects for Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, among many other clients.

Born in Mallorca, Spain, in 1932, Hardy earned Bachelor of Architecture and Master’s of Fine Arts in Architecture degrees from Princeton University in 1954 and 1956, respectively. Hardy worked as a construction drafting instructor for the engineering corps of the U.S. Navy before pursuing work as an architectural assist to set designer Jo Mielziner and legendary architect Eero Saarinen. With Saarinen, he worked on the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center. Heavily decorated throughout his career, Hardy was recipient of the Architectural League of New York’s President’s Medal, the Placemark Award from the Design History Foundation in 2001, and the Historic Districts Councils Landmarks Lion award in 2013. He received the GSA’s Commissioner’s Award for Excellence in Public Architecture, acknowledging his role in helping to define the agency’s Design Excellent program.

Renovated New Amsterdam Theater in New York.

Beginning in 1998, Hardy also oversaw the restoration and renovation of two buildings on East 70th Street in Manhattan as the new home of the New York School of Interior Design.

In 2003, Hardy was the second recipient of the Legend Award, bestowed by Contract magazine at the Interiors Awards. In 2012, his firm H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture won an Interiors Award from Contract in the Adaptive Reuse category for DiMenna Center for Classical Music, the new home of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York. Contract also featured the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) in 2011 that H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture had designed.

DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York.