Architect Henry Cobb dies at 93

Boston native who moved to New York City formed I.M. Pei and Associates in 1955

TRD New York /
Mar.March 05, 2020 11:53 AM
Henry Cobb (Photo by Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Henry Cobb (Photo by Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

It was a trip to Europe at age 9 that sparked Henry N. Cobb’s interest in architecture.

It was the perfect age, he recalled, because “you are mature enough to take a lot in, but not yet preoccupied with yourself, the way you become very shortly thereafter.”

On Monday, after a decorated career spanning 70 years, the architect died at the age of 93, the New York Times reported.

Born in Boston in 1926, Cobb was known for designing a collection of prominent buildings in his native city, including the John Hancock Tower and the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse.

He moved to New York City in 1950 to launch his career, and formed architecture firm I.M. Pei and Associates with partners Ieoh Ming Pei and Eason H. Leonard in 1955. (James Ingo Freed joined the firm the following year.)

The John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse and the John Hancock Tower (Credit: Beyond My Ken and Tomtheman5 via Wikipedia Commons)

The John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse and the John Hancock Tower (Credit: Beyond My Ken and Tomtheman5 via Wikipedia Commons)

The 800-foot, blue-glass Hancock building, which sits next to Trinity Church, was viewed by Cobb as his best work. Its inception, however, was “met with outrage” he recalled, and construction was hampered by falling panels and litigation.

As the firm recovered from the affair, Cobb moved further into office buildings, including the the Goldman Sachs headquarters in Lower Manhattan, which was completed in 2009.

He is survived by his wife, Joan Spaulding, their three daughters, Sara, Emma and Pamela, and three grandchildren. [NYT] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan


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