Peter Kamnitzer; Architect of High-Rises and Housing Projects


Peter Kamnitzer, architect who designed many downtown Los Angeles high-rise buildings and housing developments for the elderly and poor, has died. He was 77.

Kamnitzer, who taught at UCLA and USC, died Thursday in Los Angeles after a heart attack.

As partner in Kamnitzer & Cotton, he designed such projects as the $200-million Grande Promenade high-rise apartment complex atop Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles, the $10-million Keck Theater at Occidental College and, to serve lower-income and elderly residents, the Hollywood Fountain housing complex at Fountain Avenue and Vine Street.

Born in Berlin, Kamnitzer emigrated to Israel and in 1949 came to the United States, where he studied urban planning at Columbia University and architecture at Harvard. He moved to Los Angeles in 1955. He was a professor at the UCLA School of Architecture and Urban Planning from its inception in 1965 and was a visiting professor at USC.


Kamnitzer’s Hollywood Fountain project was exemplary of his innovative work to serve elderly and poor residents and to preserve neighborhoods. The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with assistance from Los Angeles’ Community Redevelopment Agency and the Hollywood Neighborhood Strategy Area.

For Kamnitzer, the challenge was “designing buildings of architectural value with the constraints that HUD regulations impose on subsidized housing.” His twin towers won first place in the 1983 Hollywood Beautification Awards. They also won praise from residents who delighted in special touches--public phones with comfortable seats, water fountains on every floor, glass walls and windows in hallway areas and sliding doors in units for the handicapped.

Kamnitzer also engaged his students in providing innovative low-cost housing, sending them out to survey income and housing needs for Hollywood actors and assigning them to develop housing concepts to serve those needs.

The architect is survived by his wife of 47 years, Marietta; two sons, David and Jordan, and two grandsons.