Stephen A. Kliment, FAIA

We are sad to inform you of the recent passing of Stephen A. Kliment, FAIA. For a special tribute to be featured in an upcoming issues of e-Oculus and Oculus, we’re seeking personal anecdotes, images, and remembrances — any and all are welcome. Please e-mail them to by Friday, 10.03.08.

– Rick Bell, FAIA, Kirsten Sibilia, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, Kristen Richards, and Jessica Sheridan, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

Stephen A. Kliment. Photo by Kristen Richards.

Passing: Stephen A. Kliment, Architect and Writer

Stephen A. Kliment, FAIA, an architect and writer whose work influenced what was built and how buildings were received, died on September 10, while traveling in Ebersberg, Bavaria. He was 78. The cause was cancer, his wife Felicia Drury Kliment said.

A distinguished architect, author, teacher, and editor, Stephen Kliment touched the lives of many, as a colleague and mentor. He was born in Prague, Czech Republic, on May 24, 1930, and was raised in England, immigrating to the United States in 1950 to study architecture. His primary and secondary education was received in Prague and in the United Kingdom. He received architectural degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (a BA in 1953), and an M.Arch. from Princeton University in 1957. He also studied architecture at l’Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris and at the University of Havana, Cuba.

A long career straddled architectural practice and criticism, with notable projects undertaken as a partner with Caudill Rowlett Scott (1968-1980) and at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of Architectural & Engineering News (1960-1968), a magazine dedicated to the technical aspects of architecture at a time when the subject was not covered in the major architectural journals. Subsequently, he was acquisitions editor of architecture books at John Wiley & Sons (1987-1990) before becoming editor-in-chief of Architectural Record (1990-1996), where he helped develop it in into the premier architectural magazine in the United States. Most recently he served as editor of Principal’s Report, published by Newark, NJ-based IOMA (Institute of Management and Administration).

At the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Mr. Kliment served on the Board of Directors and became the Editorial Director of Oculus and e-Oculus, helping to re-launch the print magazine in 2003 and overseeing the development of the electronic journal. In each quarterly issue of Oculus he reviewed current architectural literature, with book reviews that stood out for their eloquence and wit. In his review of Romy Wyllie’s architectural biography of Bertram Goodhue, Mr. Kliment might have been describing his own writing style, comprising a “singular synthesis of his life and work” with “broad scholarship distilled into lucid, jargon-free prose.”

As a teacher, he gave courses on writing for the design professions, including architecture, engineering, interior design, landscape architecture, and graphic design. These courses were legendary at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and at City College of the City University of New York where he was an adjunct professor. He was a prolific author, best known for Writing for Design Professionals (WW Norton), and as the series founder and editor of the Building Type Basics Series for John Wiley & Sons.

At the time of his death he had been working on a book on African-American architects, representing a long-time commitment to making the architectural profession more diverse and inclusive. He was an honorary member of NOMA, the National Organization of Minority Architects. NOMA President-Elect R. Steven Lewis, AIA, said, “He will certainly be missed by all who came to know him and to appreciate the support that he gave as a champion of black architects.”

He leaves his wife, Felicia Drury Kliment, a nutritional consultant and author, and daughters Pamela Drury Kliment and Jennifer Kliment Wellander, both of Seattle, two grandchildren, and a brother, architect Robert Kliment, FAIA, of New York.

To read David Dunlop’s tribute in the New York Times, see S. A. Kliment, 78, Architect and Editor, Is Dead.

To read the tribute in Architectural Record, see Stephen A. Kliment, Former RECORD Editor in Chief, Dies at 78.