Frank Albert DePasquale, AIA Emeritus, 85, died on Thursday, December 9, 2010. Frank was born in Roselle, NY in 1925, Frank A. DePasquale was graduated from city schools in 1943 and was immediately drafted into the United States Army. He served as a Sergeant in the Infantry Division, and saw action at the Battle of the Bulge and Remagen Bridge.
In September of 1946, Frank DePasquale matriculated in North Carolina State University in the School of Architecture. With the arrival of a new dean, Henry Kamphoefner, in 1948, the School of Design was created, and architecture became a five-year course of study. Frank DePasquale received his Bachelor of Architecture Degree in 1951, the second Kamphoefner graduating class. Part of the new curriculum required working in an architectural office in the summer. Since the local architects were not hiring, DePasquale secured a drafting position with Piatt and Davis Consulting Engineers, working for them for the next three years part-time and in the summer.
Upon graduation, he began full-time work with the same firm. Beginning in 1953, DePasquale developed his design and construction management skills while working in several different architectural firms in North Carolina. In 1956, the office of George Watts Carr, in Durham, offered DePasquale a position. In need of experienced architects, the firm provided DePasquale increased responsibility: his duties included design and construction documents for public schools, dormitories at the University of North Carolina, banks and office buildings, and a Carmelite Nunnery, now known as the Avila Retreat Center.
Three years later, Leslie Walker, AIA, a former Durham architect who had moved to Tampa, Florida to practice as Walker & Jackson Architects and Engineers, enticed DePasquale to come to Tampa. His duties included numerous elementary schools for Hillsborough County, including Cler Mel Elementary School which was built on such a flat site that it required five feet of compacted fill to create drainage to Tampa Bay. In late 1961, Walker & Jackson dissolved their partnership and DePasquale established the firm of Frank A. DePasquale, AIA Architect in Tampa. During the next two years, projects included a junior high school addition and a warehouse for Hillsborough County Schools, a medical office building and several residences. A recession in late 1962 and scarcity of architectural projects caused DePasquale to return to Durham.
In December of 1963, Mr. DePasquale returned to the firm of George Watts Carr Architects in the position of Associate. The following year, Mr. Carr reorganized the firm as a partnership, renaming it Carr Harrison Pruden and DePasquale Architects. For the next fifteen years, DePasquale was in charge of diverse architectural projects, involving client contact, programming of projects, land use studies, site planning, master planning, design drawings, interior design, construction documents and construction coordination. One such project was Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, North Carolina which included the construction of an administration building, skill center, library, gymnasium, student center and classroom building. At the same time, DePasquale became increasingly active in community and professional organizations, including among many others, the Durham Council of Architects and the Durham Arts Council.
In 1978, Robert W. Carr decided to create a new firm with his son, and DePasquale established the firm of DePasquale Markham Thompson and Wilson Architects. Eventually, the firm’s name was changed to DTW Architects and Planners, and for the past thirty-one years, it has performed all types of architectural projects, but focusing primarily on educational and other public buildings, religious facilities and commercial properties. In 1983, the Durham County Schools hired DePasquale’s firm under a two-year contract to design and construct several elementary schools. The School Board was so pleased with the work, the contract was renewed six times. Over this fourteen-year period, DePasquale’s firm designed and constructed over 20 school facilities in Durham. With the city-county merger of the 1990s, school projects in Durham, as well as other counties in North Carolina, have continued to be a major part of the firm’s work.
Also during this period, DePasquale designed several church facilities, notably among them St. Luke’s Episcopal and Grace Lutheran, both in Durham. Mr. DePasquale has frequently incorporated his art into his architecture, demonstrating his artistic talents in painting, fused glass work, and furniture design, especially church furniture. As an example, there are several items at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Among these is a communion platform, which consists of a square raised altar platform with a kneeling edge and communion rail. At its center is a square altar table supported by one center pedestal. The pulpit is shaped like a round nautilus shell, with circular steps to the platform. In the Narthex is a movable baptismal font composed of three intertwining gold leaf fish set on a gold leaf wave and made by Mr. DePasquale of ¾” aluminum. The fish heads support his fused glass shell bowl for baptisms. Mr. DePasquale also designed the altar and baptismal font at Grace Lutheran Church, and his fused wall sconces are in Raleigh’s IMAX Theater.
Mr. DePasquale continues to be very involved in Durham activities and public affiliations. He served as President of Durham Central Park, championing the development of a downtown park from several blocks filled with weeds and derelict buildings. It is now well on its way to becoming a vital part of the downtown area, in large part due to Mr. DePasquale’s energy and vision. The George Watts Hill Pavilion for the Arts, an elegant bronze casting facility designed by Mr. DePasquale, anchors one side of the park. This project earned him a Golden Leaf Award in 2006.
Continuing his interest in the Arts, Mr. DePasquale was selected in 2002 to participate with a group of Durham citizens to write a book about the 115-year history of the Arts in Durham. The book, “Brighter Leaves” was completed and published in 2008. The cover of the book was designed by Mr. DePasquale, and the book contains many of his photographs of Durham’s historic architecture. He also served on the Governor’s Business Council on Arts and Humanities.
Alternative energy sources and protecting the environment have always been part of Mr. DePasquale’s architectural practice. As a student at N.C. State, his professors taught him that the First Axiom of Architectural Design is to protect the Earth, since it is the source of human existence. In 2005, as a member of the Episcopal Diocese of N.C. Environmental Committee, he authored an environmental manual, “Saving God’s Creation.” It is now in its second printing for general use. Mr. DePasquale’s environmental activities also include working with the N.C. Alternative Energy Corporation Program Committee and with the National Episcopal Church leadership.
Throughout Mr. DePasquale’s sixty years of professional architectural practice, he has devoted a great deal of time to the AIA community. He has served on the NCAIA Board on several occasions, the Architectural and Engineering Task Force, and the North Carolina Design Foundation. As chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee 1986-92, he developed it from a one-man local committee to state-wide architect participation. As a member of the National AIA, he served on the Environmental Education Committee from 1978 to 1985. During this time, he participated in the planning of the “Architecture in Schools” workbook which was distributed throughout the country.
Historic Preservation, especially, has been an important part of Mr. DePasquale’s life since the 1960s. As president of the Historic Preservation Society of Durham, he led a group to create a Historic District Commission in Durham City government. As Chairman of the Chamber Downtown Historic District Committee, he surveyed all downtown buildings. Armed with this data, including the buildings’ low selling prices, he held seminars on these buildings and their potential. His slogan was, “Downtown Durham isn’t dying – it’s only changing.” During this same period, Mr. DePasquale played a major role in the creation of the civic center/hotel project, and he renovated and enlarged the Durham Arts Council Building. This spurred the arts in downtown Durham, including the Carolina Theater Renovation. All of these projects were early catalysts in the start of downtown redevelopment.
During his professional career, he has won numerous awards. Two of these include the Merit Award for the Durham Arts Council Building in 1990 and the Tower Award for the Hayti Heritage Center in 1993. In 2005, Mr. DePasquale was pleasantly surprised by the awarding of the Golden Leaf Architectural Award for Design Excellence in the City and County of Durham.
Frank was a wonderful man and will be greatly missed by all who knew him. It has been said that Frank knew more about the buildings of Durham than anyone else ever would. His accomplishments and honors as an artist in architecture will forever represent the immensity of his talent and passion.
Frank is survived by his wife of 50 years, Merial R. DePasquale; sons John F. Thompson and wife Holly, Gary Thompson and wife Bennie; daughters Dena Thomas and husband Ben, and Peggy Young; 7 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. He is also survived by 2 brothers and 3 sisters.
The family will receive friends and guests in the Johnson Hall of St. Luke’s following the conclusion of services.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Frank’s name to his beloved church; St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 1737 Hillandale Rd., Durham, NC 27705 or to a charity of one’s own choice. Frank loved the arts; any donation to community arts programs, a local Symphony or scholarship for aspiring artists would please him.
Professional & Public Affiliations
-Durham Art Guild – President, 1956-57, 1965-66
-Durham Council of Architects – President, 1966
-North Carolina Museum of Life & Science – President, 1974-75
-Friends of West Point – Board of Directors, 1975-78, 1979-81
-North Carolina Design Foundation – Board of Directors, 1976-79
-American Institute of Architects – National Environmental Education Committee, 1978-85; Pride in Place Program, Denmark, SC – Resource Team, Architectural Member, 1988; Emeritus status, 1997
-AIA North Carolina – Board of Directors, 1981-82; Chairman, Government Affairs Committee, 1986-92; Board of Directors, 1991-92; Chairman, Architectural and Engineering Task Force
-Durham Engineers Club – President, 1979-90
-Durham Chamber of Commerce – Chairman, Downtown Historic Committee, 1977-84; Board of Directors, 1981-85; Chairman, Quality Growth Committee, 1987-88
-North Carolina Central University Foundation, Inc. – Board of Directors, 1982-86; President, 1983-84
-North Carolina Central University Museum – Board of Directors 1987-91; Vice President, 1989-92
-The North Carolina Alternative Energy Corporation Program Committee, 1987-92
-Sister Cities, Durham, NC – Board of Directors, 1988-91; Chairman, Arts Committee, 1989-92; Board of Directors – 1998-2001
-Governor’s Business Council on Arts & Humanities, 1989-94
-City of Durham “Save the Durham Bulls Committee,” 1992
-Durham Central Park – Board of Directors, 1995-2001; President, 2001-2002
-Durham Arts Council – Board of Directors, 1965-66; Campaign Chairman, 1996-97; Board of Directors, 1996-2002
-Liberty Arts – Chairman, Board of Directors, 2003-2004
-Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, Environmental Ministries – Author, “Caring for God’s Creation: A Manual to Save Humanity,” 2006
-Publication of “Brighter Leaves: The Arts in Durham 1945 – 2007” 2008, Executive Board, 1996 – present
-North Carolina Museum of Art – Life Member
-Duke University Art Museum – Member
-North Carolina Symphony – Member
Historic & Preservation Organizations
-Historic Preservation Society of Durham – Chairman, Carolina Theatre Re-use Study, 1981-85; Trustee, 1989; President Elect, 1991-92; President 1992-93; Board of Directors – 2000-2003
-City of Durham Historic District Commission – Member, 1986-91
-Roanoke Island Historical Society – Life Member
-Tampa Art Institute Art Show – Honorable Mention, 1961
-Southeast Regional Horizon Home Competition – 1st Prize, 1964
-NCAIA – Merit Award, Durham Arts Council Building, 1990
-NCAIA – Tower Award, Hayti Heritage Center, 1993
-Historic Preservation Society of Durham – Bartlett Durham Award for Historic Preservation, 2001
-Hayti Heritage Center – Award for Historic Preservation, 2001
-Durham Appearance Commission – Golden Leaf Career Award for Architectural Design Excellence in the City and County of Durham, 2005
-Durham Appearance Commission – Golden Leaf Award for George Watts Hill Pavilion for the Arts, 2006
-Kiwanian of the Year – Tobaccoland Kiwanis Club, 1965
-City of Durham, NC Resolution of Commendation, 1993
-President Award Durham Arts Council, 1997
-Kiwanis International Award – Dedication and Commitment to Serve the Children of the World, 2003-2004
-Sister Cities Award for Outstanding Cause to International Understanding, 2008