Remembering Allen Eskew
We at BNIM celebrate not only the life we will miss, but also the life that was lived making a difference in a remarkable community. A true generous pragmatist, Allen’s work, life and legacy inspire all of us.
We cannot continue to see ourselves as aesthetic stylists without being rooted in our community and in our buildings’ performance.
-Allen Eskew (1948-2013)
Allen was an admired colleague and one for whom I had great respect. In conversation or on a design jury, I always left the better. I will miss his smile.
I just met with Allen last month in San Francisco during the Design Colloquium. We had some great conversations over the two days together about his practice and their work within the New Orleans community. I know New Orleans with certainly miss his contributions to the community.
Several of us at BNIM had the opportunity to work with Allen and his firm Eskew Dumez Ripple last year on our submittal for the New Orleans Redevelopment of the East Bank.
Allen was a great designer who had a huge impact in New Orleans and was also just an incredibly generous person. It only took a few minutes in their office to see that he was adored, and working with him you could understand why.
I only met Allen while on the AIA Wisconsin Awards Jury just a year ago, but I could sense he was a very valued person in the community, firm, family, and profession. And it’s clear that his work and the firm’s have been instrumental in the rebuilding of New Orleans since Katrina.
I am so saddened to learn about Allen’s passing. When I met Allen in Kansas City, and during the brief time when our team was working together in New Orleans, it was immediately clear to see why he was so widely recognized and acclaimed as the very talented designer and visionary that he was known for. His idea generation, passion for his City and love of the public realm came through as did his warm, friendly nature and generosity. I feel very fortunate to have met him.
Allen Eskew is a huge loss for New Orleans and the nation. He was a visionary architect and he and his colleagues at Eskew Dumez Ripple were key to the revitalization of New Orleans following Katrina. I was familiar with their firm because of the quality of their design work but Allen, Steve and I first met as volunteers in the Lower Ninth Ward before the water had receded following the storm. Allen was among the first to see Katrina as an opportunity for new solutions, for resilient designs that would redefine New Orleans’ future; one of those designs, Reinventing the Cresent, was recognized by AIA with a national design award.
Beyond his skills as a designer, which have been widely celebrated, I will remember him for his humanity; he could warm a chilly crowd with his smile and presence. He was an eternal optimist and always generous. He was a mentor to many and a highly skilled collaborator. He was outspoken about good design and community leadership, and at the same time universally loved. He will be sorely missed.
Allen Eskew was a wonderful person and transformational architect. Working in a tradition-bound place and community he used is own personal qualities and design abilities to educate and pass on reason for optimism to his clients, colleagues, peers and all that the touched. Through his work and that of his partners and firm he reinterpreted the traditions and climate of NOLA and other places that he worked into buildings and landscapes made up of beautiful experiences that represent their time and yet will remain timeless for generations to follow. Though I knew him for just a few years I felt that we had been friends for decades and will forever admire him and his work.
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