Updated: Thursday, February 1, 2018, 6:03 PM
Alan G. Levy, 85, of West Mount Airy, an architect and educator in Philadelphia, died Wednesday, Jan. 24, of congestive heart failure at Wesley Enhanced Living Main Line in Media.
He lived in West Mount Airy for a half-century before moving to Wesley in 2016.
Mr. Levy juggled careers as an architect of buildings here and abroad with the role of professor at the Graduate School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater.
Born and raised in South Philadelphia, he graduated first in his class from South Philadelphia High School for Boys in 1950. He attended Penn on full scholarship and enrolled in the five-year architecture program with the newly appointed dean of the Graduate School of Fine Arts, Holmes Perkins.
Perkins, Mr. Levy’s family said, directed the school toward the study of urban design and renewal, a field then in its infancy. “It was meaningful for him to be there during that era,” said his daughter, Anne Levy Pugh.
Due to Perkins’ influence, Mr. Levy studied under visiting professors from Japan, India, and Cuba, and with the renowned American architects Philip Johnson, Paul Rudolph, Scott Peterson, and Louis Kahn. After graduating from Penn in 1955, Mr. Levy served in the Army until 1957.
Mr. Levy worked for several noted architecture and urban design firms in Philadelphia, especially those of Vincent Kling and Kahn.
While in Kahn’s office, he helped design the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., and government buildings in Bangladesh.
In 1963, Mr. Levy partnered with John Murphy and Richard Saul Wurman to form the Philadelphia firm of Murphy, Levy, Wurman, Architects and Urban Planners.
The firm’s projects included hotels, offices, and 250 apartment units at Penn’s Landing — one in a series of waterfront plans that were debated and then withdrawn over the years. The firm also designed homes on Long Beach Island, N.J., and urban renewal plans for Society Hill, Queen Village, and parts of University City.
The office was committed to serving local communities, and Mr. Levy took the lead in a group of Philadelphia architects called Center for Community Design and Planning. The partners also helped bring classes in environmental education and architecture to the public schools in Philadelphia.
In his fifth year and final year as a student at Penn, Mr. Levy had begun teaching as an assistant. He taught part-time while practicing architecture until 1967, but gave it up when his practice became too demanding. In 1972, though, Mr. Levy returned to the classroom, and continued teaching until retiring from academia in 1997.
“He most enjoyed teaching design, construction, and detailing,” his family said in an appreciation. In 1981, he moved his community-related design work from his practice to the university, creating Penn’s Center for Environmental Design and Planning, which served many Philadelphia neighborhoods.
Mr. Levy was very proud of the communities he served. “He was a kind and giving man who loved creating spaces where children, seniors, and families could live safely,” his family said. “He was passionate about helping them uncover, renovate, and enjoy the beauty that surrounded them.”
In 1993, Mr. Levy partnered with Adele Naudé Santos to form Santos Levy & Associates. They worked on an office building in Tokyo, an early redevelopment plan for Camden, a natatorium for Albright College in Reading, the Yerba Buena community center in San Francisco, and campus building projects at Penn and Temple and Drexel Universities.
Mr. Levy was given the 2006 John Frederick Harbeson Award by the American Institute of Architects, Philadelphia Chapter. The award recognizes a lifetime of contributions to the profession of architecture and related disciplines. He was “so proud” of being honored by his peers, his daughter said.
“He was a really giving, caring, loving person,” she said, “and a phenomenal dad.”
Besides his daughter, Mr. Levy is survived by his wife of 63 years, Barbara Jacobsen Levy, and two grandchildren. Two sons, Paul A. and Andrew E. Levy, died earlier.
There will be no funeral service. Burial is private.
Memorial donations may be made to PennDesign’s Architecture 125 Fund, providing fellowships and financial aid to students in the Penn architecture program, by linking to https://giving.apps.upenn.edu/fund?program=GFA&fund=603759.
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