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PETER LEAL FLOYD


1922 - 2015
PETER LEAL FLOYD Obituary
Floyd, Peter Leal A prominent Boston architect who designed the domes at Disney's Epcot Center and Expo 67, has died at his home in Newton, MA. He was 93. Mr. Floyd was born in Gillingham, England on May 31st, 1922. The son of a Royal Engineer in the British Army, he spent much of his childhood stationed abroad in various British colonies, including Mauritius, an island off the coast of Madagascar, Hong Kong, Belfast, and Egypt. During his schooling, he won several art prizes for his drawings and paintings, and he informed his father that he intended to become an architect. In 1940, shortly after the start of World War II, Peter turned 18 and volunteered for the British Army. His request to be sent to an officer training unit was granted, and three months later, Peter was sent to Malta, which was under siege at the time by the Germans and Italians. After two years on Malta, Peter landed in Salerno, Italy in 1943, traveled up the Italian Coast to Anzio in 1944, and then moved inland to join the Fifth Army's march up the valleys toward Florence. Just before the war ended, Peter's division, which had had the longest contact with the enemy in British military history, was sent to Palestine. Peter was in Lebanon when the war in Europe ended in 1945. Due to his youth and years of service, Peter was required to remain in the Army until 1947. Back in London, Peter enrolled in a five-year architecture program at the University College of London. Because most of the construction resources in England after the war were being applied towards repairing bomb-damaged buildings rather than constructing new ones, Peter decided during his fifth year to seek opportunities in the United States. He applied for and received a Fulbright scholarship to study architecture at MIT. In 1952, after earning his bachelor's degree in London, he boarded the Queen Mary, bound for New York. Upon his arrival in Cambridge, he found the architecture school and met the department secretary. Diana Brooks would become his wife in 1954. One of Peter's courses at MIT was taught by Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller, the distinguished American architect, author, and inventor who popularized the geodesic dome, a thin-shell structure composed of an array of triangles that vaguely resembles a giant soccer ball. Peter became Bucky's protege, a relationship that would last for decades. After receiving a Master's Degree in Architecture from MIT in 1953, Peter co-founded Geometrics, an architectural firm in Harvard Square. In 1960, Peter was joined at Geometrics by David Wallace, forming a partnership that would last for 35 years and lead to the creation of Wallace Floyd Associates in 1981. While at Geometrics, Peter designed the United States Pavilion, a geodesic dome at Expo 67 in Montreal. Also while at Geometrics, Peter taught at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, Yale's School of Art and Architecture, and Cornell's College of Architecture. Later in his career, Peter would design the dome for Disney's Spaceship Earth exhibit at the Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida. In 1970, Peter left Geometrics to become a partner at Wallace, Floyd, Ellenzweig, Moore. There he began a 13-year project for British Petroleum, creating innovative designs for the facilities at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope that used inverted airfoils, tested in wind tunnels at MIT, to prevent the heated buildings from harming the fragile permafrost. While at Wallace Floyd Associates, his design of the Big Dig's vent building at Logan Airport won the Harleston Parker Medal in 1999 from the Boston Society of Architects. He also designed the rotating observatory that houses the multi-mirror telescope on Mt Hopkins in Arizona. In 1970, Peter became a U.S. citizen. He and Diana had four children while living in Cambridge and Newton, Massachusetts. Peter was an avid sailor in and around Gloucester, Massachusetts. In 1981, he was a crew member on a trimaran in the Newport-to-Bermuda race. Peter and Diana moved to Gloucester permanently in 1990, and Peter retired in 1995 at the age of 72. During retirement, Peter enjoyed the company of his extended family at his house on Pilots Hill overlooking Gloucester Harbor. He cherished spending time with his grandchildren, taking them on excursions to Good Harbor Beach and Rockport. Peter was a constant fixture at his grandchildrens' sporting events. Well into his nineties, he'd eagerly spend an hour in a frozen hockey rink with Diana at his side, watching his grandchildren play. Peter leaves Diana Floyd, his wife of 61 years, his sister Pam and brother Tony of England, sons Alex and Matthew, daughter Victoria, and four grandchildren. Peter's youngest son, Simon, died in 1984 during his senior year at Northwestern University. A celebration of Peter's life will be held in the summer of 2016.
Published in The Boston Globe on Nov. 8, 2015
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