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Thomas Aidala

Thomas Aidala Obituary
Thomas Aidala

Thomas Aidala, award-winning architect and urban designer, prolific artist, author and teacher, beloved husband and father, died at his home in Kelseyville on January 22. He was 82. Tom will be remembered for his talent, intellect, integrity, wit and outsized personality.

Born and raised in the Bronx by Sicilian parents, Tom discovered his gifts for art and design at an early age. He graduated from New York's High School of Music and Art and The Cooper Union, and credited both schools with transforming his tough urban beginnings into a life of opportunity and accomplishment. After earning an architecture degree from UC Berkeley, Tom designed acclaimed architectural and planning projects in the US and abroad. His early career included working in Rome with Walter Gropius and Luigi Moretti on international projects, and with DeMars & Reay, the Student Center Complex and Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley.

A long-time resident of San Francisco, Tom contributed to the preservation and beauty of the city through his work on the groundbreaking 1971 San Francisco Urban Design Plan, Mission Street and Market Street beautification projects, Yerba Buena Center, and others. From 1983 to 1998, as chief architect for San Jose's Redevelopment Agency, Tom directed the design and completion of over 100 projects, rebuilding and transforming Downtown San Jose. His work in the Bay Area and elsewhere focused on creating beautiful and humane environments.

In 1996 the American Institute of Architects recognized Tom with the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture, its highest national honor for public architecture.

Throughout his life, Tom expressed his artistic talent in many media-drawings, paintings, sculpture, collages, calligraphy, furniture. As author, his published work included the first popular books on San Francisco's Victorian architecture (The Great Houses of San Francisco) and Hearst Castle (Hearst Castle, San Simeon). Tom enjoyed teaching at colleges and universities, and mentored colleagues, staff and students throughout his career.

Tom and his wife Rita Skevos shared over four decades of loving partnership, travel, art, culture, and great meals with family and friends. Tom was a founding member of the Sunday Afternoon Watercolor Society (SAWS) and the SPQA, a social group which met regularly to celebrate Italian culture, great food, and red wine.

Tom is survived by his loving family, including Rita, daughter Tania (husband Derek Miracle), son Darius (wife Beth Aidala), son Marco, a grandson, nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws and a large family of friends. A memorial service will be held later this year in San Francisco. For more information, contact [email protected]

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 28, 2016
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