Avenue Magazine: A Modern Renaissance Man

It was a hectic Friday morning in July and David Rockwell, the architect and designer behind the Rockwell Group, moved seamlessly from project to project. He wore his trademark all-black uniform—a black T-shirt and black Levi’s—his salt-and-pepper, wavy hair parted over to one side. If ever he’s not wearing black, he’s in dark blue, but even then, only occasionally. Though his personal style is somewhat static, nothing else about or around him stays the same.

Rockwell’s New York office, open and light-filled, is pleasantly raw and overflowing with interesting-looking objects—handcrafted models made in-house, hard and soft finishes, a library of fabric swatches that stretch as far as the eye can see. At 61, Rockwell is a Renaissance man for the ages, a winner of professional honors that range from an Emmy Award to a Tony Award to design awards too numerous to count.

Over time, most architects come to specialize in one category—say, great, hulking skyscrapers or impossible structures that defy gravity. But Rockwell relishes in the creative process, evolving and expanding his eponymous company by taking on an array of projects that defy  categorization. Whether he’s fine-tuning the interior of a new hotel, designing sustainable, modular playground equipment, or putting the finishing touches on the set of a Broadway show, Rockwell is a man in constant motion, his mind forever churning with new ideas.