Newport Beach architect dies at 90

William E. "Bill" Blurock, a Newport Beach resident and celebrated architect, has died. He was 90. Blurock died after never recovering from an emergency surgery to fix a ruptured colon June 12.

During his lifetime, and with the help of his architecture firm, the Blurock Partnership, now tBP/architecture, Blurock contributed to the building of several nationwide — and California — schools, including Corona del Mar and Estancia high schools, and the Orange Coast College library.

An earlier version incorrectly reported the name of the firm as tDP/architecture. Also, it was originally reported that his birthday was April 22. It was April 27.

He is also the architect of Segerstrom Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, formerly named the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

Blurock's live-in companion and caregiver remembered him for his humble nature.

"Overall, a lot of Bill's success was due to being nice to people and appreciating them for who they were," Matt O'Toole said. "He certainly had a unique outlook on life for Newport Beach. He was almost an anti-elitist. He was open to anybody."

John McMurray, chief executive and board chairman at tDP/architecture, said Estancia was groundbreaking due to its unique one-building design. It also had department-based areas.

Estancia was an "open planning of clustered classrooms around an interior math commons and no doors on the classrooms," he said. "It was an environment which encouraged student engagements and conversations. The openness also allowed for teachers to team teach and maintain visual contact from the class space to the commons space and vice-versa."

Blurock also helped design schools around the world, including in Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Italy and Saudi Arabia. His company's American school in Rio de Janeiro won many international awards for its design and practical use of the site. The buildings were created with concrete on a sloping lot with a stream running through the middle. The lower portion of the lot used surplus dirt to create a play field. And, due to its tropical location, much of the usable space was open air and did not need much air conditioning.

Blurock, a 1947 graduate of the USC School of Architecture as well as a University of Florence School of Architecture student, and tDP/architecture are also credited for corporate campuses for Allergan, Home Savings and Hunt Wesson Foods, as well as Far West Services restaurants like Coco's, Reuben's and the Reuben E. Lee.

Blurock was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1968 for outstanding contributions to the design and science of construction. He was also appointed to the California State Board of Architectural Examiners by Gov. Ronald Reagan. He served there for 13 years.

After Blurock served as a national director for the institute of architects, the Blurock Partnership received the institute's Honor Award for "historically significant design and achievement during the past 30 years." Blurock also received a lifetime achievement award from the AIA in 2009.

Blurock flew 62 missions as a P38 pilot over Europe and North Africa during World War II. He stayed involved with the 82nd Fighter Group Assn., attending yearly reunions, and organizing the 2011 reunion in Palm Springs.

Cruising and racing sailboats was also a lifelong passion for Blurock. He was an active member of the Balboa Yacht Club, where he served as commodore in 1963. He also named his personal boat, Blurocket IV, after the P38 he flew during the war.

He spent 27 summers aboard Blurocket IV, cruising from Bellingham, Wash., to San Juan Islands in Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. He was also a longtime supporter and board member of the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum, and created its educational endowment fund in 2006.

Blurock is survived by his sister Florence "Betty" Hohwiesner; his three children, Thomas Blurock, Dona Jo Blurock and Edward "Ned" Blurock; his stepchildren Linda Berry, Bud Hileman, Mark Wilson and Daniel Wilson; step son-in-law John Kratz; and many step grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A private memorial will take place July 16 in Newport Beach with a P38 flyover to be enjoyed by the public.

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