David A. Morton, a former associate publisher at Rizzoli International Publications in New York, died June 27 in an assisted living residence in Norfolk, Virginia, after being ill with lymphoma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 89. A longtime resident of New York City, Mr. Morton was well known for his skillful eye and imagination in acquiring and editing books on architecture for Rizzoli, which he joined in 1987. While there, he created an exceptional program of publications about leading architects, from the avant-garde to the traditional, and generated a number of works of a theoretical and historic nature. Charles Miers, publisher of Rizzoli, says, “David helped make Rizzoli the preeminent publisher of architecture books. His intellectual curiosity, far-reaching vision, high standards, and the seeming ease with which he produced so many books are unmatched.”

Mr. Morton’s range of handsomely executed architecture books included works by well-known, modern figures, such as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, I.M. Pei, Peter Eisenman, and Thom Mayne, among others. Mr. Morton was also ecumenical in his choices: his keen interest in a classically-oriented work by such contemporary architects as Allen Greenberg, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Demetri Porphyrios, John Simpson, Quinlan Terry, and Robert A.M. Stern created an ample audience for Rizzoli at a time when modern design dominated the discourse.

Under Mr. Morton’s guidance, Rizzoli also published substantive books on significant historic figures such as Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Le Corbusier, Louis Sullivan, Gunnar Asplund, and Carlo Scarpa. Frank Lloyd Wright: The Houses, first published in 2005, is still a top-selling title. The lavishly illustrated publications were combined with scholarly analyses written by historians and theorists such as Barry Bergdoll, Kurt Forster, Kenneth Frampton, Joan Ockman, and Richard Guy Wilson. 

In 2006 Mr. Morton received the Henry Hope Reed award from the Richard H. Driehaus Prize for his contributions to highlighting classical architecture. In 2009 Rizzoli’s books devoted to both modern as well as classical styles earned Mr. Morton, along with Mr. Miers, honors from the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation in New York.   

Mr. Morton was born in Tampa, Florida on June 28, 1934. After graduating from the University of Florida in 1960, he relocated to New York City where he worked as an editor for Charles Scribner’s Sons. In 1970 Mr. Morton joined Progressive Architecture magazine where he was eventually executive editor. John Morris Dixon, P/A’s editor in chief from 1972 to 1995, recalls, “I could always depend on David’s exceptional judgment and his unceasing help in expanding the magazine’s subject matter.” 

While at Progressive Architecture, Mr. Morton also acted as the executive editor for the first two issues of Oppositions, published in 1973 and 1974 by the Institute for Architecture and Urban Design. Mr. Morton retired from Rizzoli in 2015, and moved to Norfolk, Virginia, in 2019. He is survived by a niece, Susan Armas-Mentado, and two nephews, Jon Witherspoon and Dirk Morton.