Architecture & Design
Christopher Gray, Architecture Writer and Researcher, Dies at 66
Typical of his interest was a St. James’ Church, sought his suggestions for a remodelling, he suggested taking apart the church and starting over once again.
“Each building has a couple of competing histories,” Mr. Gray composed in his last column, on Dec. 26, 2014.”Mansions, for instance, were the domain not just of expensive individuals upstairs, however also of servants below– who were they? Where did they come from, and go? And exactly what about the people who relocated when the old pile was burglarized homes? There are many stakeholders in a single structure, not simply the Astors and Vanderbilts.”
Besides the columns and books that appeared under his name, Mr. Gray contributed to the general scholarship of New york city architecture through his Office for Metropolitan History. This was a research bureau for hire that he established in 1975, when a building’s provenance might be learned only by reading deeds, street atlases, directory sites, microfilm and old photographs.Many of those files
were at his fingertips in a jampacked suite at Broadway and 80th Street, where the smell of 19th-century mildew joined the odors from a bagel bakery downstairs. Often, the “workplace “consisted of Mr. Gray alone. But for several years, he was associated in his deal with Suzanne Braley, Samantha Hightower, Melissa Braverman and his wife, Erin D. Gray. His role was acknowledged in a few of the more consequential books about New york city buildings, consisting of the”AIA Guide to New York City”and Robert A. M. Stern’s magisterial series:” New York 1880, “” New york city 1900,””New York 1930, “” New York 1960″ and” New York 2000. “”
I came to count on Chris as a substantial resource,” Mr. Stern said on Monday. “He was generous with his time and always happy to share what looked like his almost boundless knowledge of the city’s architectural and social history.”
Mr. Gray, who was 6 feet 2 inches, had a rumpled patrician air, that of a male who would understand which fork to use if confronted by 3 of them at a formal dinner, but might just as easily consume a Papaya King hotdog at a stand-up counter.
Christopher Stewart Gray was born in Kansas City, Mo., on April 24, 1950. His dad, Stewart S. Gray, operated at Armco Steel. His mother, the former Anna Margaret Riepma, composed for The Kansas City Star and worked in fashion merchandising.
After the Grays divorced, Mrs. Gray moved to New york city to join Harper’s Fete. Nine-year-old Christopher walked every day from his brand-new home on East 56th Street to the Browning School, marveling at the “rugged sample” of New York he would go by.
“It piqued in me the aspiration to describe (if only to myself) how this train wreck of a city was put together,” Mr. Gray wrote in “New york city Streetscapes.”
He worked as a common seafarer in Cleveland when he was 19, then as a cabdriver and substitute mail provider in New York. In 1975, he got a bachelor’s degree in art history from the School of General Researches at Columbia University. He opened the Office for Metropolitan History quickly after.
Ms. Gray stated that the Workplace for Metropolitan History would continue in business.Mr.
Gray began composing a column for Opportunity magazine in 1980, and one for House & & Garden in 1982.
“Reading the columns was like walking around the city in the company of an urbane historian with a designer’s eye and a writer’s ear,” Mr. Leahy said.
Mr. Gray’s affection for people reached the checking out public. Question-and-answer columns gave him an opportunity to show his erudition and to encourage readers to undertake research study on their own, a task that grew easier with the intro of electronic databases.After quiting the Streetscapes column in print, Mr. Gray continued a Facebook variation. But it was not the same for admirers like the designer Armand LeGardeur, who informed Mr. Gray inJanuary that he still missed out on reading capsule histories of New york city architecture every Sunday early morning. Mr. Gray responded on Facebook,”When someone puts in the time to write an actual letter, about a column that
disappeared over 2 years ago … well, you feel you sort of actually accomplished something.”A variation of this short article appears in print on March 14, 2017, on Page B15 of the New york city edition with the heading