Kevin Sarring
1953 - 2020
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SARRING Kevin Lee Sarring 1953 - 2020 Kevin Lee Sarring was born on April 17, 1953 to June 17, 2020. A world-renowned, gifted architect, archaeologist, and generous friend to so many people and causes has lost his struggle with ALS disease. He is acknowledged as a leading specialist in Historic Preservation in locations all around the World, ever curious, ever diligent, and ever enthusiastic. Kevin, a sweet, smart, modest, big guy with a huge, generous heart, ever-present wit and sense of humor delighted in sharing his knowledge and inimitable passions for history. Many people will mourn his loss, as the World looses a great spirit. Kevin Lee Sarring received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois in 1976 and that year participated in American Bicentennial projects in France. While a graduate student in New York City at Columbia University, he worked for Joseph Pell Lombardi and the City of New York on loft conversions and the Theodore Roosevelt Mural Restoration at the American Museum of Natural History. His master's thesis was the acquisition of the Chrysler Building and its conversion to housing. From 1995 to September 2016 at the U. S. Department of State, Overseas Buildings Operations, Kevin was the Post architect preserving significant overseas American embassy architecture, and managing the designs of new American embassies. Founding member of the Cultural Resources Committee, he was instrumental in establishing the Secretary of State's Register of Cultural Property in 2000, seminal policy, and later the new Cultural Heritage Division the first in the Department with the mission to maintain historic overseas embassy property. Within his design portfolio were new American embassies in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and New Delhi, India. He led the design of the Burkina Faso embassy with traditional exterior paintings, and the new embassy in Skopje, Macedonia laid out along a hill top, without visual domination. In Albania, he was the architect for a large new addition tightly fitted into historic context. He led the preparation of the Historic Structure Reports for the America's first embassy the Tangiers Legation; the Seoul Guest House; Amsterdam Consulate; Prague Chancery, and the New Delhi compound. He was the government architect for the design build 16,000 sq. ft. modular embassy in Kyrgyzstan, inspired by vernacular diners, which won a Design Build Institute of America award in 1999. In the Fall of 97, he worked with architecture students at UCLA preparing a computer model of the Forum of Trajan for "Beyond Beauty" the opening exhibit at the new Getty Museum. In 1998 he was a member of the team for the Dar es Salaam interim facilities in Africa, after the abandonment of the embassy damaged by terrorist bombings. His other completed assignments include a new Embassy in Tunis, and perimeter security enhancements for Embassy Rome. He guided the restoration of the first American legation building in Korea. In 2003, Kevin was the architect on the multi-disciplinary team receiving the Franklin Award for the Rome INA office building assessment that led to the single largest building purchased by the United States overseas. In 2006, he and his team received the Meritorious Honor Award for Tunis Recreation Center. Kevin received an individual Meritorious Honor Award in May 2008 for his Secretary of State's Register leadership. In 2011, Kevin's Ouagadougou New Embassy project by BL Harbert and PSP received the Eagle Award for Excellence from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) association. He was a recipient of a Superior Honor Award in 2015 for his teamwork supporting the Gaziantep Design Build Fit-Out at the Syrian/ Turkey border. In September 2016, his team received the Prix D'Excellence by the International Real Estate Federation for the New Delhi Master Planning. Kevin received a total of fourteen awards from the State Department. Since 1971, he has been the architect for American archaeological excavations in Italy at Capalbaccio, Cosa, Pompeii, the Roman Forum, Trajan's Forum, and Theater of Pompey, for a total eighteen seasons. His Pompeian First Style drawings (1973) for American Academy in Rome Fellows Anne Laidlaw and Norman Neuerburg, were used to reproduce the Getty Villa wall plaster in Malibu California.He has been with the World Monuments Fund conserving Preah Khan, Angkor Cambodia during three campaigns, teaching architecture and archaeology students from Phnom Penh University. In 2006, during a fourth mission to Cambodia, he prepared illustrations for presentations to the International Advisory Committee, andwas part of the technical team conserv- ing Phnom Bakheng and the Angkor Wat Gallery collaborative projects by the World Monuments Fund and the APSARA authority. In 2007 in Pompeii he worked with the University of Perugia researching the House of Sallust. From 1976 to December 1989, he worked for Harry Weese on many preservation projects including Grand Central Terminal, New York; Union Station, Washington DC.; Union Station Los Angeles; Federal Triangle, Washington DC.; Field Museum, Chicago; Pennsylvania Railroad Station, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Wheeler Opera House, Aspen Colorado; Auditorium Theater, Chicago; and the St. Louis Old Post Office. For Harry Weese he landmarked the Oliver Building, Soldier Field, Navy Pier, and the S/S Clipper, and was a Vice President. He wrote frequently for Inland Architect as the editorial assistant between 1982 and 1991. In 1989 he left Chicago for Singapore to be the Restoration Consultant to Ssangyong Construction from Korea, restoring Raffles Hotel. In Singapore he also served as the Project Manager to Cloister's Investment, converting a nineteenth century convent school into a shopping center. In Chicago, his independent projects have included an authentic Japanese House in Uptown; a 4,700 sq. ft. apartment remodeling with authentic Japanese detailing; studies for a banquet pavilion at the Cuneo Museum and Gardens; technical writing for Lohan Associates; Soldier Field Benedict Stone conservation for Hasbrouck, Peterson; and the Pullman Shops stabilization for Teng & Associates. In 1994, he was an instructor for the first class at the Chicago Art Institute Historic Preservation program. That year, he completed reconstructing National Register facades in Indianapolis, including the oldest cast iron facade in Indiana for Broady - Campbell/Building Blocks, part of the new Circle Centre downtown shopping mall. In Luangphabang Laos for HPZS Architects, he prepared the construction documents for Wang Chien Keo, converting a French colonial farmhouse on the Mei Kong River into a cultural, handicraft and textile museum. Kevin served his Falls Church, Virginia community twice on the Winter Hill Condo Association Board carrying out the Pool House repair, and other deferred maintenance projects including: masonry, sidewalks, street repainting, and wood fencing. His design for a seaside beach house for a private client in Belize was built in 2008. Kevin was the Vice Chair of the City of Falls Church city council appointed Preservation Partners Task Force considering the downtown redevelopment. In 2010 he addressed historic preservation leaders in Hyderabad India at JNAFA University's School of Architecture and Planning. In 2013 Notre Dame University architecture school invited Kevin to critique students' work for the redesign of the Federal Triangle in Washington DC. In Berkeley County West Virginia, Kevin restored the National Register Apple Chapel for his country studio and art center which is spotlighted in the National Park Service website on historic preservation tax credits. There he prepared concept designs for the Berkeley County Historic Society's new archives in an old building in the central historic district; designed accessibility for the landmark Belle Boyd House; advised on its technical restorations/repairs; and compiled the morphological development for exhibit. In Martinsburg, he has consulted with the local Authority on the redevelopment of the National Historic Landmark Train Sheds. In 2014 he completed post-demolition documentation drawings of 1790 Protumna only preserved in photos. In Gerrardstown, he was a leading voice organizing some 3,500 neighbors in opposition to a brick quarry threatening over 100 acres of historic Oban Hall farmland and the environmental watershed of Mill Creek. In 2012, he organized the 225th anniversary celebration of the town's founding and raised funds to install six new historic town signs on the Washington Heritage Trail. In Jefferson County, West Virginia, he has consulted with the County Commissioners on the preservation of the Charles Town National Register downtown, including in 2008 on the adaptive reuse of the Old Jail for new county offices. For the old jail save, he received an award from the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia. He advises the Harpers Ferry town council members on the sensitive preservation development of the Hill Top Hotel, an African American landmark and its historic neighborhood. Retired from the State Department in September 2016, Kevin continues his dedication to historic preservation. In Charles Town WV, at the request of a direct descendant of President Washington's brother, he prepares many concept designs restoring Happy Retreat, recognized by the National Trust as an American Treasure, now saved by the community for public uses. He is the first-ever recipient of the "Outstanding Contribution Award to Happy Retreat," For private clients, he developed designs to transform an unassuming modern modular home into an authentic bungalow, and for Blakeley, built in 1820 by John Augustine Washington II, great-nephew of George Washington, he collaborated with its owners on a variety of kitchen layouts respectful of its National Register status. In the summer of 2017, he was the Architect at Cosa, an ancient roman town north of Rome, supporting Bryn Mawr, Florida, and Tubinggen universities' archaeology excavating the town's Augustan baths remodeled during Hadrianic times. Kevin recently received the honored 2018 Preservation Alumni Leadership Award at his alma mater Columbia University. Kevin designed his own tomb-stone. His ashes will rest in the historic part of the Gerrardstown Presbyterian Church just down the road from his beloved "Apple Chapel" home and studio which he had so lovingly and perfectly restored. Private, no service.

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Published in The Washington Post on Jun. 26, 2020.
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7 entries
July 1, 2020
A life well lived! He will be missed.
Vince Ziolkowski
July 1, 2020
I worked at Harry Weese and Associates with Kevin in the late seventies, early eighties. He is obviously very bright and accomplished but what I remember most about him is that he was always a sweet and kind and humorous soul. My heart goes out to his family and friends.
Connie Didonato
June 30, 2020
Kevin was all about architecture. It was his life. I was a PM (now retired) in OBO, Dep't of State. Kevin and I did two new embassy projects together, one in Tunis, Tunisia, and the other in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. We became friends. One time we did a layover in Rome, Italy. Kevin gave me a tour of the ancient city. Amazing. I belong to an inner-city Washington, DC church. Kevin helped me with restoration projects, not for money, but for fun. Kevin loved architecture, especially restoration projects. I would stop by the Apple Chapel when passing through WV. Last year, Kevin gave me a tour of his latest passion, a renovation of a mansion still owned by descendants of George Washington. Amazing. Kevin will be missed.
Parry Carlson
June 30, 2020
I was given the great pleasure to know Kevin several years ago, and was struck by his warmth, lovely sprightly humor, intelligent embrace of beauty and design, and his profound moral sensibility about preservation of culture and our natural world. We've lost a beautiful soul.
Elizabeth Wheeler
June 29, 2020
One hell'ava guy!. Great sense of humor and a hard worker.
Darryl Jones
June 29, 2020
A wonderful person. A font of knowledge on the history of architecture. One could learn a great deal from him. We will miss him always.
Tariq Farooqi
June 26, 2020
Kevin was a truly remarkable person, and befriending him really was an enriching experience. In the mere two years we worked together at the U.S. Department of State, and the subsequent four years during which we kept in touch through Facebook and I made just one visit to the Apple Chapel to attend a musical event that Kevin hosted, I learned from him about just a small fraction of his enormous and distinguished portfolio of work. His design and historic preservation legacy shall continue long after all of us who knew and loved him are gone.
Stephen E. McLaughlin
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