I was shocked to hear the great publisher Kevin Lippert passed away on March 29. I had known Kevin for forty years. I met him right after he founded his publishing company Princeton Architectural Press in 1981. He graduated as an architect studying at Princeton and decided to dedicate himself to publishing fine architecture instead of practicing. In this way, his contribution to architecture culture has been enormous.
He was an early champion of my work, publishing my first architectural manifesto Anchoring in 1989, in time for our exhibition at MoMA in February 1989, and wrote the introduction to this book. In a sense, I owe my beginnings as an architect to Kevin who over the years continued to publish my works in the format of Anchoring: Intertwining (1996), House (2000), Urbanisms (2007), and Compression (2019). Full of enthusiasm and optimism, he also published our science and architecture experiment Parallax in 2000 as well as a book on the Chapel of St. Ignatius.
An excerpt from his publisher’s foreword to Anchoring:
In its iconic simplicity, his work seems to be about the language of architecture, not in the allusive sense used by postmodernists nor in the paradigmatic sense used by so-called “deconstructivists” but at the level of essences of tropes and morphs… He is the only American architect of his generation to be directly influenced by the main lines in modern philosophy and music, that is to say, by the line leading from Husserl through to Heidegger and by separate achievements of Bartok and Schonberg.
In 1988 when I thought to end the little series Pamphlet Architecture, Kevin carried on the publication, so the independent young architects’ pamphlets continued. Kevin’s press published two Pamphlet Architecture compendiums of numbers 1-10 and 11-20.
Kevin Lippert was more than a publisher. He was a committed intellectual and impresario for the culture of architecture. He knew and deeply understood art and his dedication to quality publications over three decades will remain for future generations to learn about architecture.
Kevin was particular and focused. He was without equal for three decades in America. He published many books on the great Pacific Northwest architect Tom Kundig, the Arizona-based architect Rick Joy, and the amazing experimental architect Lebbeus Woods. He led Princeton Architectural Press for forty-one years and two months until he was unceremoniously pushed out of the company he founded. After recovering from cancer, he started a new company Design Arts Press in July 2020 with a courageous, never-give-up attitude that was characteristic of Kevin.
Architecture is a fragile art dominated today by commercial interests and big business offices. Like in many of the arts, commodity overshadows spirit. With rare figures like Kevin Lippert, the flame is kept for a deeper spirit of architecture. Future students of architecture will continue to learn from his dedicated publishing work.