Stephen B. Jacobs, FAIA, Creative Architect of NYC, Dies at 82

By Brian J. Pape, AIA

Living in a Stephen B. Jacobs creation for the past 12 years has been an inspiration for me, but one doesn’t have to be an architect like me to appreciate the amazing attractive spaces he created, which received several awards.

130 Barrow is one of the early Stephen B. Jacobs projects, adopting this truck parking loft into modern apartments, imbuing a hint of Parisienne architecture into the West Village, by the sloped penthouse walls and terraces.

According to their website, Stephen B. Jacobs Group (SBJGroup), initially founded by Stephen B. Jacobs in 1967, was one of the earliest firms championing the use of obsolete mercantile buildings as new housing. Their portfolio is full of numerous adaptive reuse projects of every imaginable building type including factories and mills, hospital buildings, carriage houses, stables, and office buildings. His projects have become textbook examples of how to develop the highest economic potential of an existing building while, at the same time, preserving its architectural and historical significance, which is the ‘greenest’ way of architecture. The firm has successfully completed the renovation and restoration of numerous historic buildings, many of which have been listed on the State of National Register of Historic Properties.

The firm prospered and grew while receiving many design awards, and has completed many large hospitality and housing projects. Just this month in Crain’s NY Business, SBJGroup came in at #17 with its 52 architects, led by Stephen Jacobs, president, on the list of largest architecture firms in NYC.

Greenwich Village was the recipient of his talents for using obsolete buildings as a housing resource, as was commonplace in the old world he came from.

In 1974, Jacobs transformed the ca. 1861 ‘Cast Iron Building’ at Broadway and 11th Street into housing for Rockrose Associates, perhaps the earliest adoptive re-use projects for cast iron loft structures.

Another example is the ca. 1890 industrial loft “Printing House” at 421 Hudson Street, remodeled for apartments in 1976 with solar collectors on its roof, one of the first to utilize new non-fossil-fuel technologies.

“ Portico Place” was built as a Presbyterian neo-Greek temple-style church in 1846, but when the congregation moved out of 143 West 13th Street, Jacobs transformed it into housing in 1982, keeping the exterior intact.

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