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Myron Goldfinger, architect of monumental modernist houses throughout the Northeast, died last month at age 90. According to the family in a New York Times announcement, the cause of death was liver cancer.

Born and raised in Atlantic City, Goldfinger studied architecture under Louis Kahn at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating in 1955, while in the U.S. Army, he designed cabinetry for the Pentagon building in Virginia. Goldfinger then worked for noted landscape architect Karl Linn, followed by stints at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and at the office of Philip Johnson, where he contributed to the designs of ticket booths for the 1964 New York World’s Fair and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C.

In 1966, he went out on his own, establishing a small architecture practice, and married interior designer June Matkovic.

Goldfinger began to garner professional notoriety with the completion of his own home in Waccabuc, New York, which won a Record House Award and was published in the mid-May 1971 issue of Architectural Record, alongside projects by noted residential architects Julian and Barbara Neski, Norman Jaffe, John Lautner, Eliot Noyes, and others. The strikingly sculptural cedar-clad house stood four stories tall amid a dramatic, tree-stippled landscape. Calling it “a prototype for a prefabricated building system,” Goldfinger organized the dwelling around a 15-foot-square module determined by the dimensions of a standard sliding glass door. Record cartoonist Alan Dunn later parodied the house.

waccabuc house photo


waccabuc house drawing


Waccabuc House, Westchester County, New York, as pictured in Architectural Record, May 1971 (1); Alan Dunn cartoon in Architectural Record depicting Waccabuc House. Photo by Norman McGrath (1)

Through Johnson, Goldfinger met architectural historian and Pratt Institute professor Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, a professional partnership that sparked a decade-long teaching career and an interest in academic scholarship. He later published a number of books, including Villages in the Sun: Mediterranean Community Architecture (1969), reprinted by Rizzoli in 1993.

During the successive decades, Goldfinger designed a number of evocative suburban houses—many in New Jersey, Connecticut, and on New York’s Long Island—that triumphantly combined primitive shapes and volumes. “The fashion of the moment is so temporary. Only the timeless basic geometry repeats in time,” Goldfinger wrote in a 1992 monograph. Perhaps due to Kahn’s early influence, a certain monumentality pervaded his work, which often featured vast blank walls and sweeping curves. In Southampton, New York, Goldfinger designed the Conason House (1984), with a massive barrel vault and quarter-circle fins, which has been featured on television shows including Royal Pains as well as in Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street.

Goldfinger is survived by his daughters, Thira and Djerba, and his wife.