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William N. Breger

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Born in Manhattan, New York City, William N. Breger, attended Stuyvesant High School in New York City, while "sneaking" into Cooper Union as a non-graduated high school student for a year before being discovered and thrown out at age 15.

He later held a graduate degree in Architecture from Harvard University and a PhD in Philosophy from New York University. He served in the Planning Department of the United States Army during World War II, and was discharged with honor.

In the two years shortly following the War, he was the assistant and draftsman to Walter Gropius (the founder of the Bauhaus Architecture Movement) at the Harvard University School of Architecture. "I owe a great deal to Harvard, the School of Design, and to Gropius."

Upon his return to New York he established his own architecture firm along with architect, Stanley Salzman. Bill was a Design Professor and later became the Chairman of the School of Architecture at Pratt Institute, a Visiting Lecturer in Health Care Design at Columbia University, a Lecturing Professor at the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID), and a Lecturing Professor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, specializing in English and French Furniture. He was a fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

One of his students, subsequently a prominent New York architect, remarked: "Bill was tough on us, but when I began practicing architecture in the real world, I realized the value of his approach: the clients were much tougher." Some of the students among the rank and file are Robert Siegel, Leon Moed, Malcolm Holzman, Ken Ricci, Theodore Liebman, Michael Severin, George Wu, Harry Meltzer, William Katavolos, James Terjesen, Warren Winter, James Bermel, Robert Parnes, Chris Welsh and many, many others who can attest to his overall teachings, good and bad.

Bill had a reputation among his students as a tough task master and disciplinarian. Another former student commented, "Breger ... the very name name struck terror in the hearts of Pratt students!"

Over a long career, Bill received many design awards; among others early on, he was 3rd place in the 1948 national competition for the Gateway to the West in St. Louis, and the architect of the award winning Civic Center Synagogue in Lower Manhattan notable for its "floating" appearance in 1967.

His compassion and humanity was manifested by an architectural practice spanning his lifelong career, specializing in the health care field, in which he pioneered the environment as a therapeutic tool approach. His novel designs and methods were summarized in the book "Nursing Home Development" co-authored with William R. Pomeranz. Bill was an editor of the "Encyclopedia of Philosophy" published by Macmillan Publishing Co., and wrote numerous publications on nursing homes and extended care facility design.

For 92 years family and friends enjoyed Bill's brilliant insight, sharp wit and honesty to fault. WILLIAM N. BREGER passed away on Feb. 23, 2015.


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sveneggers, January 22nd, 2018
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