PETER BLAKE, FAIA (1920-2006)
Born into a Jewish family in Berlin in 1920 as Peter Jost Blach, Blake was sent by his parents to school in England after the Nazis came to power. His parents later left Germany separately. In 1938 he began studying at the University of London and in 1939 became a student at the Regent Street Polytechnic School of Architecture. He moved to the US around 1940, where he enrolled in the architecture school at the University of Pennsylvania and studied with and worked briefly for Louis Kahn. He became a citizen in 1944 and changed his name to Blake. After serving in the army through 1947, he settled on Long Island and struck up acquaintance with a wide circle of artists, architects and writers, from close friend Jackson Pollock to Philip Johnson, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, and Charles Eames. From 1948-1950, he was named curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, writing books on Marcel Breuer, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, among others. At the magazine Architectural Forum, he was associate editor from 1950 to 1961, managing editor from 1961 to 1964, and editor in chief from 1965 to 1972 when he founded a beautiful but short-lived magazine, Architecture Plus, which folded in 1975. With Julian Neski, he designed an exhibition on architecture as part of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, the place famous for the Nixon-Khrushchev Kitchen Debate.
In 1975, Blake became Dean of the Boston Architectural Center. In 1979 he became Dean of the Department of Architecture and Planning at Catholic University in Washington. He was a partner in the architectural firm PB & Julian Neski from 1958 to 1961 and James Baker and PB from 1964 to 1972. Other projects with Neski include the Temple Emanu-El in Livingston NJ. Blake's archives are at Columbia. Blake colorfully described his life in the 1993 memoir, No Place Like Utopia: Modern Architecture and the Company We Kept.
In his long career, he would become much more famous for his writing than his 50 buildings. His books include: The Master Builders: Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright; A History of Modern Architecture: God's Own Junkyard; The New Forces; Architecture for the New World: The Work of Harry Seidler; Great Architecture of the World; Form Follows Fiasco: Why Modern Architecture Hasn't Worked; Architecture for the New World - The Architecture of Arthur Erickson; Edward Larabee Barnes: Architect; Philip Johnson; Craig Ellwood, Architecture; How to Design the Perfect Building; The Architecture of Ulrich Franzen. Bio adapted from Wikipedia and his New York Times obituary.
1949 - aka House in Locust Valley NY. His thesis project. Unbuilt.
1954 - The Peter Blake House, aka Pinwheel House, 254 Rose Hill Road, Water Mill NY. Sold to Stelle, for whom Blake dessigned a renovation. Sold to Frank and Iris Muster, for whom Blake designed a renovation. Deeded to Iris Zonligt. In 1998, the house was enlarged from a 2 bedroom, 1 bath home into 3,000sf with 5 bedrooms and 6 baths. Sold in 1999 to Lori Finkel. Sold in 2005 to 254 Rose Hill LLC. Available for rent.
1956 - The Jack Russell House, 49 Huntington Lane, Water Mill NY. Designed with Julian Neski. Featured in LIFE, 8/3/1959. Still in the Russell family as of 2020. Bottom photo by Timothy Godbold.
1956 - The J. B. Cahn Alternations, East Hampton NY. Status unknown.
1956 - The Winslow Addition. Status unknown.
Around 1956 - The Kent House, Water Mill NY. Status unknown. Kent was a doctor.
1957 - The John and Violet Martinez House, 70 Conant Valley Road, Pound Ridge NY. Designed with Julian Neski. 1580 sf. Featured in Architectural Record, January 1960. Photos by Alex von Steiger, Hans Namuth, and Vincent Lisanti. Built by the owners. Duct work went through the foundation. The roof started leaking in the 1970's. Sold in 1987. Pool added; modified and added onto many times. Modernist, but the original design is lost. Sold to Mitchell Cannold. Sold in 1997 to Jhane Barnes. Sold in 2011 to Michael Ohler. Sold in 2018 to Tristan Jehan.
1958 - aka Mecox Bay House, 478 Jobs Lane, Water Mill NY. Sold to Harry Wolff and Ruth Nagourney. Sold in 2021 to 478 Jobs Lane LLC.
Around 1958 - aka Terrace House, aka Calsi-Crete House. Featured in Arts and Architecture, September 1958. Designed with Julian Neski. Status unknown, likely unbuilt.
Around 1959 - The Evaline Ness House, Surf City NJ. Designed with Julian Neski. Featured in Architectural Record, September 1960. Status unknown.
1960 - The Yvonne Forrest Hagen House and Studio, 329 Sagaponack Road, Bridgehampton NY. She was an art critic and widow of Karl Hagen. Designed with Julian Neski. Deeded to heirs. Sold in 2012 to Astor Real Estate Holdings LLC. Sold in 2021 to 321 Sagg LLC.
1961 - The Armstrong House, 102 Surfside Avenue, Montauk NY. Designed with Julian Neski. Commissioned around 1957. Sold in 2000 to Roger Gershman. Blake designed renovations around 2001. Gershman still owner as of 2020. Available for rent.
1961 - The A. J. Warner House, Fire Island NY. Status unknown.
1962 - The Benjamin Hertzberg House, 48 Old Pound Road, Pound Ridge NY. Commissioned in 1959. Designed with Julian Neski. Sold in 2004 to Old Pound LLC. Sold in 2007 to Diane Gershen. Sold in 2011 to Craig and Joanne Padawer.
1962 - The Tobey Barn, Amagansett NY. Commissioned around 1958. An old barn was moved to the site and turned into a house. Designed with Julian Neski. Status unknown.
1968 - The Eckstein House, Kings Point NY. Designed with Dorothy (Dusty) Alexander. Commissioned in 1965. Status unknown.
1994 - The Tamulevich Renovation, Branford CT. Status unknown.
2003 - The Benjamin Gerson House, 113 Mott Road, Frelinghuysen Township NJ. Blake's last house. Commissioned in 1999. Photo by Meredith Bzdak.
Sources include: son Casey Nelson Blake; daughter Christina Blake Oliver of Newton MA.