The Eulogizer: Architect Larry Bogdanow


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Learn about their achievements, honor their memories and celebrate Jewish lives well lived with The Eulogizer. 

Larry Bogdanow, 64, noted restaurant architect

Architect Larry Bogdanow, whose signature was the “sense of warmth and ease” he brought to high-end restaurants such as New York’s Union Square Cafe, died June 29 in New York at 64 from a brain tumor.

Bogdanow, the founder of Bogdanow Partners Architects, “brought a contemporary Arts and Crafts sensibility to restaurant design, using rich colors and woods like cherry, pear and pecan to create an atmosphere of relaxed luxury,” The New York Times wrote

Other New York restaurants that received Bogdanow’s signature touches included the Cub Room, City Hall and Telepan.

Wild Blue, destroyed in the World Trade Center bombing, received more praise from one critic for its design than its food.

“Theoretically, the prize tables are by the windows, but the banquettes along the back wall offer prime sightlines and a feeling of solid comfort for anyone with a fear of heights," The New York Times wrote. "When night falls, Wild Blue feels like a plush space capsule hurtling through the cosmos. The decor goes a long way to explain the quiet, slightly blissed-out demeanor at table after table."

Designer David Rockwell said, “His interest in urban craftsmanship, evident in restaurants like Union Square Cafe and the Cub Room, really anticipated the industrial urban aesthetic that’s prevalent right now.”

Slide shows of Bogdanow’s restaurant work can be found here and here. He also designed Caliterra in Chicago and Rubicon in San Francisco.

Working somewhat out of that niche of high-end, chef-driven restaurants, Bogdanow and his firm worked on a $1 million renovation of the Jewish landmark Ratner’s on the  Lower East Side of New York in the late 1990s.

Bogdanow was a board member and active participant of the Jewish Heritage Project, which aims to support Jewish heritage through literature. The organization’s executive director, Alan Adelson, told The Eulogizer that Bogdanow was “a passionate reader of literature related to his Eastern European Jewish Heritage, a history he and his family had explored avidly … and an advocate for the publication and appreciation of the literature that remains from a culture that was so brutally decimated in the Holocaust.”

Bogdanow was a part-time farmer at his country home in Chatham, N.Y., and also was involved in the “slow food” movement, which aims to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and local foods. Adelson said Bogdanow was “a brilliant cook of the vegetables he raised in his own garden.”

Bogdanow was born in Houston, graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and moved to New York’s SoHo neighborhood. He earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and founded his own firm in 1978, which evolved into Bogdanow Partners Architects. Bogdanow was married to Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Deborah Shaffer.

More on Ruth Roberts

A careful reader of The Eulogizer wrote to suggest that calling Ruth Roberts’ “Meet the Mets,” the enduring song she co-wrote for the New York Mets, a “fight song” in the column might have been in error, as her brother, Sam Roberts, was quoted as saying the song was always meant to be friendly.

"This song is not about baseball," Sam Roberts said. "It’s not about the game and there’s nothing violent about it. It’s about having a nice day at the ballpark."

The New York Times obituary noted that Roberts’ parents changed their name from Murwitz.

(Write to the Eulogizer at Read previous columns here.)


Recommended from JTA