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Levitt Bernstein co-founder dies aged 80

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Levitt Bernstein co-founder David Bernstein has died aged 80

Bernstein, a former teacher at the Architectural Association and a leading supporter of social housing, passed away following a short battle with cancer.

Born in New York in 1937, he read architecture at the University of Cincinnati, before studying under Louis Kahn at Philadelphia University.

After moving to London in the 1960s, he met David Levitt while working on Camden’s Brunswick Centre. The pair went on to form Levitt Bernstein in 1968, and the practice came back to the Brunswick Centre to work on its restoration between 2003 and 2006.

The practice’s seven-sided Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester won an RIBA Award in 1977.

Levitt and Bernstein also founded the housing association Circle 33, running it for six years before choosing to devote all their professional time to the architecture practice. 

Bernstein retired in 2003.

Levitt Bernstein managing director Matthew Goulcher said this week: ‘Kind, light-hearted and full of integrity, David remained a father figure for many of us long after his retirement and we will miss him dearly.

’The culture and ethos we all cherish here today is thanks so much to his wonderful, open and compassionate sensibility.’

Brunswick Centre

Brunswick Centre

 Bernstein’s most famous projects

  • 1968: Brunswick Centre, Bloomsbury – a Modernist mixed-use neighbourhood
  • 1976: Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester – a futuristic seven-sided theatre in the round (pictured below)
  • 1977: Hart Hill Lane, Luton – a development of 33 sheltered flats for the elderly and 10 family homes in Luton
  • 1980s: Arlington House, Camden – refurbishment providing accommodation and support for vulnerable people 
  • 1993: Gateway Centre, Southwark – a development of 58 flats for young people, 32 ‘move-on’ flats and a job/training centre 

Levitt Bernstein's 1976 Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester

Levitt Bernstein Royal Exchange Theatre

Source: Matthew Weinreb

Levitt Bernstein’s 1976 Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester


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Readers' comments (1)

  • I am so sad to hear this. I worked there as a year-out student in 1976-77. I remember a kindly, clever man who was always at his drawing board early in the morning before most of us arrived. As a student we were compelled to use Rotring pens (which I hated) and I'll aways remember the day he came up and said "...it's about time I taught you to use a pencil.." and demonstrated how to weight the lines into to corners to produce elegant drawings and how fast it was a medium.

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