Famed architect Rafael Viñoly dead at 78

Uruguayan behind 432 Park and 125 Greenwich designed noteworthy buildings around the world

Rafael Viñoly with 432 Park Avenue and 125 Greenwich in New York and One River Point in Miami
Rafael Viñoly with 432 Park Avenue and 125 Greenwich in New York and One River Point in Miami (RVAPC)

Rafael Viñoly, the Uruguayan architect who shaped skylines from New York to Seoul, has died at 78. 

Viñoly died Thursday in New York City, his family said. The cause of death was an aneurysm, according to El País Uruguay, which was among the first to report the news.

Some of Viñoly’s best-known designs include 20 Fenchurch Street, a London office tower nicknamed the “Walkie-Talkie” building; the supertall Manhattan condo tower 432 Park Avenue and the Tokyo International Forum. His work brought both acclaim and criticism. 

20 Fenchurch Street
20 Fenchurch Street (Getty)

“He was a visionary who will be missed by all those whose lives he touched through his work,” Viñoly’s son Román, a director at his father’s namesake firm, said in a prepared statement. “The firm’s partners and directors, many of whom have collaborated with him for decades, will extend his architectural legacy in the work we will continue to perform every day.”

Viñoly was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, on June 1, 1944. He studied at the University of Buenos Aires, where he received a master’s degree in architecture in 1969. By then Viñoly had already established himself in Argentina, co-founding Estudio de Arquitectura with a half-dozen partners in 1964.

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He moved to the U.S. in 1978, settled in New York a year later and started Rafael Viñoly Architects in 1983. His first big project in New York was at the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

He would go on to design the Bronx County Hall of Justice, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. Later in life he began designing luxury condos, including 432 Park Avenue, a boxy 1,396-foot-tall tower developed by CIM Group and Harry Macklowe. Viñoly also designed 125 Greenwich, a luxury condo tower in Downtown Manhattan that recently restarted construction after years of delays caused by financing issues.

Viñoly won numerous awards for his work, including a Medal of Honor from the American Institute of Architects’ New York chapter in 1995. Outside of architecture, Viñoly enjoyed playing classical piano. 

He is survived by his wife, Diana, his son, Román, stepsons Nicolás and Lucas and his brother Daniel.

This article was updated with a statement from Román Viñoly.