courtesy ZGF Bob Frasca

Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects (ZGF) announced that founding design partner Robert Frasca, FAIA, died on Jan. 3 due to complications from a long battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was 84.

Born in Niagara Falls, N.Y., Frasca earned a B.Arch. from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in city planning from MIT. After graduating MIT, he moved to Portland, Ore., and worked at the city's planning commission and Wolff and Zimmer Architects before accepting a traveling fellowship from his alma mater, the University of Michigan. He later returned to the city and founded Zimmer Gunsul Frasca (ZGF) with Norm Zimmer and Brooks Gunsul, FAIA, in 1966.

Courtesy ZGF Groundbreaking for National Institutes of Health Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center
Courtesy ZGF National Institutes of Health Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center

Today, the firm has offices in Portland as well as Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Vancouver, British Columbia. The firm won the AIA's Architecture Firm Award in 1991, and topped this year's ARCHITECT 50 list in sustainability for the second year running and ranked second overall. (View the firm's profile in ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.)

Frasca's portfolio includes Portland projects such as the Doernbecher Children's Hospital and the Portland International Airport, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's Mortimer B. Zuckerman Research Center in New York, the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center for the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Yawkey Center for Cancer Care in Boston. He was elevated to the AIA's College of Fellows in 1979.

Courtesy ZGF Portland International Airport

"The legacy is the work," says Ted Hyman, FAIA, ZGF's managing partner. "But I think more importantly, the legacy is a group of people that are really passionate about the work we do. It’s been really wonderful to have him lead us in that and I think that will go on. The style of the work may change as people come and go, but I think the passion about doing the right thing for people and places won’t change."

The other two original founders, Norm Zimmer and Brooks Gunsul, are no longer involved with the firm. Zimmer died in 1994, and Gunsul has retired. According to Hyman, there are no plans to change the firm's name—which was rebranded from Zimmer Gunsul Frasca to ZGF Architects several years ago—and the firm's discussions about leadership transitions are ongoing. "That was a big part of Bob’s vision, that this thing lives on after him," he says.