George Kostritsky, the last surviving founder of RTKL (now now global architecture, planning, and design firm CallisonRTKL), has died in Baltimore at 98 from coronavirus complications. A gifted urban planner, Kostritsky left his mark on the design of cities throughout the U.S.
“Urban planning is embedded in CallisonRTKL’s DNA,” says CallisonRTKL President and CEO Kelly Farrell. “Our deep understanding of urban environments began with George Kostritsky.”
Kostritsky met eventual co-founders Archibald Rogers, Francis Taliaferro, and Charles Lamb — then known as architectural firm Rogers, Taliaferro and Lamb — while doing planning work for the Charles Center project, a major urban redevelopment in Baltimore’s business district. The three architects were impressed by the methodology that Kostritsky brought to the project as well as his approach to redesigning downtowns.
In 1961, they asked him to join them as a partner. Months later, the firm shortened their name to RTKL (it was said that their receptionist simply got tired of reciting the firm’s full name) and moved from Annapolis to Baltimore. Soon, the young firm was designing the Charles Center’s public spaces.
With the addition of Kostritsky, RTKL transformed from an architecture firm into an architectural, urban planning, and design firm and applied its planning experience from the Charles Center to U.S. projects in Albany, N.Y.; Hartford, Conn.; Eugene, Ore., and Charlotte, N.C.
“George hired many of our earliest partners, including Harold Adams, FAIA, who served as RTKL’s managing architect and then as president over the course of 36 years,” adds Farrell. “The master plan projects in our portfolio today span the globe – from Beijing to Abu Dhabi to Brasilia. George’s legacy is unmatched.”
The streetlamps were to make another appearance in the Fountain Square project in Cincinnati. The 1971 renovation in the center of the city reoriented the fountain and expanded the plaza. The square soon became an important public gathering place and won the AIA’s first National Award in Urban Design in 1973.