Volume 22, Number 34 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 1 - 7, 2010
Rossant, 81, architect made his mark Downtown
By Albert Amateau
James S. Rossant, the architect and planner who co-designed the 1962 Butterfield House in the Village and was involved in the 1966 master plan that led to the development of Battery Park City, died Tues., Dec. 15, of leukemia in his home in Normandy, France, at the age of 81.
Rossant was a principal designer, with William J. Conklin, of Butterfield House, 37 W. 12th St. The glass building, which rises seven stories around a central courtyard, has been hailed as a model of modern architecture integrated in a historic townhouse block.
In 1979, Paul Goldberger in The New York Times said Butterfield House was one of the 10 best postwar apartment buildings in the city.
With Conklin, his partner on Butterfield, Rossant developed plans for Reston, Va., a city of 75,000 about 20 miles west of Washington, D.C.
After working on Butterfield House and Reston, Rossant became involved in developing a master plan for Lower Manhattan. The design team, led by Wallace K. Harrison of Harrison and Abramovitz, completed a master plan in 1966 for a mixed-use and planned residential community to be built on landfill. The concept, which was later revised by Alex Cooper and Stanton Eckstut, eventually became Battery Park City.
James Stephen Rossant was born Aug. 17, 1928, in Manhattan, grew up in the Bronx and attended Bronx High School of Science. He earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1950 from the University of Florida. In 1953 he earned a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, where he was a student of Walter Gropius, the leading Bauhaus architect of modern architecture. Rossant taught architecture at Pratt Institute from 1970 to 2005, and urban design at New York University’s School of Public Administration from 1975 to 1983.
He was recognized as a consummate draftsman and frequently exhibited his architectural drawings and paintings. His shows included paintings of fantasy cities free of gravity with buildings radiating everywhere, many of which were collected in “Cities in the Sky,” which was published earlier this year.
His wife, Colette Palacci Rossant; a son, Tomas, an architect with firm Polshek Partnership; three daughters — Cecile, of Berlin; Juliette, of Reston; and Marianne, of Queens — and eight grandchildren survive.