Our Collections

Paul Byard

Also known as Paul Spencer Byard

Paul Byard contributed to the preservation movement in New York City as an architect, lawyer, educator, and author.

Organizations: Architectural League of New York, Municipal Art Society, New York Landmarks Conservancy
Places: Carnegie Hall, Cooper Union Foundation Building, Grand Central Terminal, Green-Wood Cemetery, Sailors’ Snug Harbor, State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division Courthouse, United States Customs House at Bowling Green, Villard Houses
Above: United States Custom House; Courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives

Paul Byard was born on August 30, 1939 in New York City. His father, Spencer Byard, was a lawyer who focused on the affairs of Trinity Church and the New York Society Library, while his mother taught English at Columbia University’s School of General Studies.1 Paul Byard married Rosalie Starr Warren in 1965. They had two children: Eliza Starr Byard and Joshua Spencer Byard.2

Byard graduated from Yale in 1961, and also received degrees from Clare College, University of Cambridge, and Harvard Law School.3 He practiced law for several years at the prestigious law firm Winthrop & Stimson, and served as the general counsel to the Roosevelt Island Development Corporation. He was also an associate counsel to the New York State Urban Development Corporation.4 He received a degree in architecture from Columbia University in 1977.5

Byard later joined the James Stewart Polshek and Associates architecture firm and became a partner in 1981.6 During his tenure with Polshek, Byard was responsible for renovations of Carnegie Hall, the United States Customs House at Bowling Green, and the Villard Houses. In 1989, Byard joined Charles A. Platt Partners (later called Platt Byard Dovell White, also called PBDW Architects).7

In addition to working on renovations of historic structures in New York City, Paul Byard was also responsible for the design of several contemporary buildings. These buildings include the New 42nd Street Studios, the Chanel 57 building, and a mausoleum and columbarium at Green-Wood Cemetery.8 Another notable project Byard worked on with Platt Byard Dovell White was the conversion of two 1920s brick garages for a performance art space called the Cedar Lake Ensemble.9

Byard was a member of several organizations focused on planning, architecture, and preservation. As the president of the Architectural League of New York, he led several projects that worked to enhance the quality of life and surroundings in New York City using urban planning. One example is the Vacant Lots program, which encouraged using vacant lots for infill housing in New York City.10

In addition to these accomplishments, he authored the critically acclaimed book, The Architecture of Additions: Design and Regulation, cataloging over 60 case studies that show the marriage of new and old architectural designs.11 Before passing away, he had been working on a book entitled, Why Save This Building? The Public Interest in Architectural Meaning.12 Byard died of cancer on July 15, 2008. He was 68 years old.

American Friends of Cambridge University
Director, 1988-2000

Architectural League of New York
President, 1989-1994

Historic Preservation Program, Columbia University
Director, 1999-2008

Municipal Art Society
Director, 1968-1989

New York Landmarks Conservancy
Director, 1973-2008

Vinmont Foundation
Director, 1972-2008

Paul Byard's involvement and contributions to the preservation movement in New York City were threefold: as an architect, he worked on key restorations of several prominent buildings in New York City; as a lawyer, he helped develop preservation financing methods; and as an educator, he headed Columbia University's historic preservation program.

Some of the buildings that Byard renovated include Carnegie Hall, the Cooper Union Foundation Building, the State Supreme Court's Appellate Division Courthouse in Madison Square, the Villard Houses, and the United States Custom House at Bowling Green.13 Also, while serving on the board of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, he helped establish the Historic Properties Fund.14 This revolving loan fund continues to secure between $300,000 to $20 million for preservation-related repairs. Since its formation in 1982, this low-interest rate fund has helped aid over 240 buildings in New York City.15 In addition, he served on the board of the Municipal Art Society from 1968 to 1989. During this time, Byard was the primary author of briefs amicus curiae for such prominent cases as the Sailors' Snug Harbor, Lutheran Church, and Penn Central.16 These briefs helped facilitate the security of the New York City Landmarks Law during the Supreme Court Case that saved Grand Central Terminal.

Furthermore, while directing the historic preservation program at Columbia University from 1998 to 2008, he was responsible for creating a studio course that combined architecture and preservation. The studio's major focus is on modern additions to major historic monuments.17 The studio provides students with the necessary tools for renovating historic structures by demonstrating how new architectural designs can be used to preserve historic buildings.18 Finally, he was the author of several books that focused on architecture and other major themes relevant to historic preservation. He wrote The Architecture of Additions: Design and Regulation, which offers over 60 case studies showing how the melding of new and old architectural styles is vital in terms of renovation and rehabilitation of historic structures.19 He argues that oftentimes the use of new designs can enhance the historic details of older structures. He also wrote Architecture and Social Policy and Architecture: The Theory and Practice of Historic Preservation, which address the issues of public policy and social concerns in terms of the history of historic preservation and where it is headed in the future.20 In addition, upon his death, Byard had been working on a new book entitled Why Save This Building? The Public Interest in Architectural Meaning.21

  1. 
David W. Dunlap, “Paul Byard, 68, Dies; Architect Renovated Landmarks,” The New York Times, 18 July 2008.
  2. 
Ibid.
  3. 
Ibid.
  4. 
Ibid.
  5. 
Ibid.
  6. 
Ibid.
  7. 
Ibid.
  8. World-Architects Profile. 
  9. 
Ibid.
  10. 
Susan Stephens, “Paul S. Byard, 68, Noted Preservationists Who Embraced The Present,” Architectural Record, 7 August 2008.
  11. 
Carter P. Horsley, “Intelligence and Sympathy Counts,” Book Review of “The Architecture of Additions: Design and Regulation,” City Review. Article retrieved 16 March 2016.
  12. 
David W. Dunlap, “Paul Byard, 68, Dies; Architect Renovated Landmarks,” The New York Times, 18 July 2008.
  13. 
Ibid.
  14. 
Susan Stephens, “Paul S. Byard, 68, Noted Preservationists Who Embraced The Present,” Architectural Record, 7 August 2008.
  15. “Historic Properties Fund: Funding Historic Restorations,” The New York Landmarks Conservancy. Article retrieved 16 March 2016
.
  16. 
Susan Stephens, “Paul S. Byard, 68, Noted Preservationists Who Embraced The Present,” Architectural Record, 7 August 2008.
  17. 
Ibid. 
  18. 
Ibid.
  19. 
Ibid.
  20. 
Ibid.
  21. David W. Dunlap, “Paul Byard, 68, Dies; Architect Renovated Landmarks,” The New York Times, 18 July 2008.