Victor Caliandro, AIA, age 58, of St. Paul, unexpectedly, February 15, 2002, in St. Paul. Principal and Director of Urban Design, Cuningham Group. Director on the board of AIA Minnesota. Adjunct assistant professor at the University of Minnesota College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Fellow of the Institute for Urban Design. Recipient in 2001 of a presidential citation from AIA Minnesota for leadership of the Urban Design Committee of AIA Minneapolis. A passionate, eloquent voice in the Twin Cities urban design community, Victor moved to Minnesota in the mid-1990s from New York City, where he had been one of the urban designers and architects who created the master plan, housing guidelines and Esplanade Park for Battery Park City. He considered his work on this major project a highlight of his career, and it expressed his exuberant vision for what cities can be. Last October, Victor returned to Manhattan to see the devastation of Sept. 11 at the World Trade Center site and show his support for a city he loved. The trip affected him deeply, but the weekend before his death he visited the WTC site again. This time, he and architect Aaron Parker, a long-time friend and teaching colleague, led a group of urban design students to the site for a course they co-taught on thinking about the site in the 400-year context of Western habitation. ``One of the things that made Victor exceptional,'' said Parker, ``is that he had a grasp of what it takes to make urban vitality, and at the same time he understood what it takes to implement those designs. It's a rare combination.`` Tireless in his commitment to making urban spaces more livable, Victor once told Urban Land magazine in an interview, ``A large part of livability is about the excitement of being in a particular place, followed by a sustained sense of having made the right choice.'' To take advantage of architectural opportunities in the Twin Cities, Victor moved here with his wife Margaret Maria Brozek Caliandro, an editor, and their son Nicholas (Nino). The couple had met in Pennsylvania through a mutual friend and married in 1968. When they arrived in Minnesota, in 1995, he was the Cass Gilbert Visiting Professor at the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. He continued to teach at the University while establishing the urban design studio at Cuningham Group. He worked internationally, designing the Pacifico Plaza in Yokohama, Japan, and in the city of Fukuoka, Japan, he designed the Tenjin Galleria, a mixed-use building and outdoor space at the entrance to the Tenjin district, a commercial and civic center. In 1997 it won the prestigious Urban Beautification Award from the city of Fukuoka, Japan. Locally, his planning and design projects included transformation of the old Village North Shopping Center, a decaying retail site in Brooklyn Park, into The Village, integrating housing with commercial uses and turning Shingle Creek, a storm water channel behind the mall, into a water amenity and parkland. The project won a 2000 City Achievement Award for innovation and excellence in housing, economic development and community spaces from the League of Minnesota Cities. He also was the lead designer for two stations of the light rail transit project and served as an advisor to the city of St. Paul on waterfront development. Victor had a strong commitment to creating housing in the city. At the time of his death, he was planning and designing a mixed-use urban redevelopment project at Franklin and Portland in South Minneapolis and doing conceptual planning for D.R. Horton, a national housing developer. Born January 29, 1944, in Jersey City, N.J., to Anthony and Ernestine Caliandro, Victor spent most of his childhood and adolescence in Rome and Naples, Italy, where his father, a protestant minister, handled post-WWII refugee relief for the United Nations and ran a seminary. This early exposure to Italian design sensibilities remained a strong influence in a professional career that spanned more than 30 years. Victor returned to the United States in 1962 to attend Lehigh University, transferring to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study architecture. He held advanced degrees from Columbia University and MIT. The Battery Park City project was completed during his tenure at a large New York firm that has become Cooper Robertson & Partners. For 10 years he had his own firm, Caliandro Associates, in New York City. Besides his wife and son, he is survived by three half-sisters, Evangeline, Marietta, and Dotty; his wife's parents, Josef and Eunice Brozek; and brother-in-law, Peter Brozek and wife Dubravka. His parents preceded him in death. A memorial service will be held at 4 P.M., Wednesday, Feb. 20, at Unity Church-Unitarian, at Portland and Grotto Avenue, St. Paul.
Published on February 18, 2002
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