Tribecan Thierry Despont, who left his mark here with restorations of significant landmarks, dies at 75

Thierry Despont, the French architect and interior designer who restored the Statue of Liberty, and reimagined the interiors of the landmark Battery Maritime Building and Woolworth Building, and who lived here in a lavish townhouse, died on August 13 in his Southampton estate, a converted riding club called Rosewood Farm. He was 75. The Times has a full obit.

Despont with Princess Firyal of Jordan

His projects were opulent, lavish and detailed — and often in historical settings. “I like to create a small universe,” he said in a 2015 interview with Vanity Fair when he was working on the Plaza and the Ritz. “From the master plan to the doorknobs, from the trees planted outside to the way people will sit and eat and dance inside, you create and control a whole microcosm.”

Despont’s firm oversaw the conversion of the Woolworth Building — the Beaux-Arts masterpiece on Park Place built in 1913 — in 2013, as well as the design for The Pinnacle, the name given to the tippy top spire apartment that just sold for $30 million.

He also brought another Beaux-Arts landmark — the Battery Maritime Building, which had been largely ignored for seven decades — back to life with his work to reimagine the interior as Casa Cipriani, an events space and private club. (The architect for the building itself was Marvel.)

His studio was also adding the extra floors to 50 Hudson to create a low-rise, three-story penthouse on that charming building, which is now for sale.

He also designed J. Crew (and other brands) CEO Mickey Drexler’s building at 464 Greenwich and Watts in 2008, creating a massive single-family home. Drexler sold that in 2022.

Despont’s own townhouse here — 10,000 square feet at 182 Franklin that he bought in the mid ’90s — had two wine cellars, three gas fireplaces and a master suite that took up the entire third floor. He had a studio on the ground floor, since he was also an accomplished painter and sculptor. (In 2011, the Marlborough Gallery and the Steinitz Gallery in Paris hosted a show of his paintings along with remarkable and unusual antiques at 6 Harrison, in the Mercantile Exchange building.)

Despont was born in Limoges on April 19, 1948, and received a degree in architecture from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1972 before moving to the States to get his master’s degree in urban planning from Harvard.

From The Times: “While he drew an early appreciation for the aesthetic possibilities of buildings from his father, an architect, his design sensibilities were born of his earliest memories of his grandfather’s bucolic farmhouse. ‘I do believe we all have inside us some memories, some images, of a house, a window, a shaded porch, of a tree that we are trying to recapture later on,’ he said in his Alliance Française talk. His memories of the farmhouse, he said, reminded him of a favorite line from a novel by Rainer Maria Rilke: ‘It is not a complete building, but broken pieces inside me; a room here, a room there, and then a piece of hallway that does not connect these two rooms.’

“’Each project that I do for my clients,’ he said, ‘is a piece of this dream house that I have inside of me.'”



  1. i am so sad about his death- for our neighborhood, and the world

  2. He was a poet of multiple dimensions.