On Jan. 1, 2009, architect and planner Peter H. Dominick, Jr., FAIA, of Denver- and Chicago-based 4240 Architecture, died of a heart attack at the age of 67. According to his firm, he was both an urbanite and an outdoorsman. Dominick will be remembered as a steward of the land and a devoted regionalist throughout his 40-year career.
Dominick was born in New York City on June 9, 1941, to Nancy Parks and Peter H. Dominick, a two-term U.S. senator from Colorado and ambassador to Switzerland. From age 5, Dominick lived in Denver, until attending St. Mark's School in Framingham, Mass., for four years. He then went on to graduate from Yale University in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies, studying with architecture professor and historian Vincent Scully. In 1966, he received a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with Louis Kahn.
In 1973 he returned to Denver to work as a designer with William Muchow & Associates. He founded Dominick Architects in 1974, followed by his partnership with some friends to form the Wazee Design & Development Co., which played a major role in the revitalization of Denver's "LoDo" district. He merged Dominick Design with Urban Design Group in 1989, assuming the roles of director of design and head of the Denver studio.
Dominick continued working with the firm for approximately 13 years until 2003, when he and colleagues E. Randal Johnson, AIA, and Thomas R. Brauer, AIA, left to co-found 4240 Architecture with offices in Chicago and Denver. The firm grew quickly into an 80-person operation with a diverse portfolio of commercial, hospitality, institutional, mixed-use, and residential architectural and planning projects.
Although most of the firm's residential work has been multifamily, Johnson says Dominick ensured that one or two single-family residences were always in the works. "Peter always saw working with individual clients as a great opportunity for keeping our integrity and honesty together in how we perform, but also to keep the staff highly tuned and trained, because residential projects are in a lot of ways the hardest to do—harder than multifamily or mixed-use," he says.
Dominick was faithful to his philosophy that every house should be designed to suit its specific environment and culture and that architecture should act as a healing agent in landscapes. He incorporated a strong sense of regionalism and deep understanding of natural landscapes into every project, large or small, using local materials and researching local cultures and modes. Dominick's process was inclusionary, Johnson recalls. "He was so collaborative, and that's what made him so much fun to work with, for clients and colleagues," he says.
Throughout his career, Dominick served on the boards and committees of several professional, educational, and art organizations. He was elected a Fellow of The American Institute of Architects in 1994. Dominick served as 4240 Architecture's president and chairman until his death. His last project was a lobby design for Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando, Fla., the latest in a series of projects for the Walt Disney World Resorts organization. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Philae Carver Dominick, two grown children, his mother, and three siblings.
The project in which Dominick took the most pride, according to Johnson, was a small pavilion for a residence in Montana. While touring the project site, Dominick came across a massive lodgepole pine felled by a windstorm and felt a need to honor the tree. He proposed building a pavilion as a memorial to the tree using only its lumber, and the client agreed. "The smallest project probably says the most about him and his love of the land and attention to detail," Johnson muses.