Kevin Lippert, publisher of Architectural Books, has died at the age of 63

When Kevin Lippert graduated in architecture from Princeton in 1981, he and his fellow students were encouraged to study historical texts. But these books were old, fragile, large and cumbersome, and access to them was limited.

It occurred to him that if they could be reprinted in smaller formats and provided at a reasonable price, students would be happy to pay for them.

And so he whipped up his idea. He persuades the school’s librarians to allow him to take out rare books and copy them; if students have their own copies, he argues, they will not damage the originals.

In a pilot project, he first experimented with “Recueil et Parallèle des Edifices de Tout Genre” (“Study and comparison of buildings of all kinds”), a book published in 1800 by the French architect Jean-Nicolas-Louis Duran. He made intricate copies into large sheets measuring 20 by 26 inches and placed them in wooden boxes to keep them better. At $ 300 apiece, they were beautiful, but not very practical.

To expand the appeal, he decided that his next book should be smaller and that it should be bound. He chose a classic text: The Edifices de Rome Moderne (1840), Paul Letaruy’s three-volume masterpiece, sometimes called the most beautiful book on Renaissance architecture ever published. He found a printer that combined work into a single volume that measured easy to work 9 by 12 inches and printed 1,000 copies.

Mr. Lippert sold them to students for $ 55 in the trunk of his car. They sold out immediately.

Thus was born Princeton Architectural Press, of which he is the founder and publisher. Eventually, it expanded beyond its classic reprint series to create high-quality books on architecture, design and visual culture – and later books on hobbies and crafts, children’s books and note cards.

The publishing venture was an early example of the entrepreneurial spirit that inspired the versatile Mr Lipert, who died on March 29 at his home in Ghent, New York, southeast of Albany. He was 63.

His wife, Rachel Rose Lippert, said the cause was complications from a second battle with brain cancer.

Mr. Lippert made a name for himself as a publisher, but he was more than that. He is a classical pianist, playing for the first time at 6 and composing music for the first time at 8. He began at Princeton as a medical student until he was fascinated by the history and philosophy of science and changed his major. Elected Phi Beta Kappa, he received a master’s degree from the Princeton School of Architecture. He was a computer foreman and ran a technical services company selling hardware and software for business design.

On the sidelines, he cooked, rode a bicycle, walked around, built furniture, gardeners, and refilled himself with countless cups of espresso. He was also a historian and wrote the book War Plan Red (2015) about the secret plans of the United States and Canada to invade each other in the 1920s and 1930s.

“He was a true scholar,” wrote Mark Lamster, who worked for Princeton Architectural Press and is now an architectural critic at The Dallas Morning News.

But while Mr. Lippert was full of interests, his enduring legacy is in architecture. The press – which was founded in Princeton, moved to Manhattan, then to the north of Hudson, New York, and then back to Manhattan – has no official connection with Princeton University, although Mr Lippert’s powers at Princeton give credibility.

He first met with a representative of Eastman Kodak and learned about the chemicals used in special photography. He then photographed and designed the plates for his books himself, creating high-quality works.

“I want people to think,” he told Archinect, an online architectural forum, in 2004, that “if this is one of our books, it’s almost certainly interesting, beautiful, well-edited and well-done.”

His goal was to bring architecture to the widest possible audience and introduce new voices to the conversation.

“There was a space between the academic MIT Press Theory and the Rizzoli Café,” Mr Lamster wrote, adding that Princeton Architectural Press would fill the gap with “the young practitioner’s voice”.

Mr. Lippert supported the emerging architects. He published Stephen Hall’s founding architectural manifesto, Anchoring in 1989, and wrote the introduction to the book of the same name. Mr Hall, in homage to Mr Lippert on his website, called him “a dedicated intellectual and impresario for the culture of architecture”.

Mr. Lippert also promoted the work of Tom Kundig, a prominent architect in the Northwest Pacific, with whom he published four monographs.

“It has changed my life and I think it has changed the lives of many people,” Mr Kundig told Architectural Record. “See the list of books he has published. He created an entire architectural universe. ”

Kevin Christopher Lippert was born on January 20, 1959 in Leeds, England. At the time, his parents, Ernest and Maureen (Ellis) Lippert, were studying at the University of Leeds.

As his father continued his academic studies in analytical chemistry at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, the family moved to Tennessee. They later moved to Ohio, and Kevin grew up mainly in Toledo.

He learned to play his grandmother’s piano at 4, won numerous competitions and continued to play for the rest of his life, including recitals at Princeton, where he was music director of the campus radio station, WPRB. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1980 and his master’s degree in 1983.

He later taught at Princeton. An expert in digital technology, he was one of the first proponents of the use of computer tools for drawing and 3-D visualization.

In 2020, he received an award for art and literature in the field of architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Lippert has survived his father; his mother, now Maureen Rujik; two sons, Christopher and Cooper; daughter Kate Lippert; and Sister Carrie Lippert. His three previous marriages ended in divorce.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.