Trump World Tower, New York City

Prolific New York architect and Trump collaborator Costas Kondylis dies aged 78

Architect Costas Kondylis, who designed countless residential skyscrapers in Manhattan including several for Donald Trump, has died aged 78.

Kondylis, widely known as the "developer's architect", passed away at his home last week. He designed 86 buildings in New York City during his career, making him one of the city's most prolific architects.

Kondylis most notably worked with Trump while the president was a real-estate mogul, on New York projects including the Trump World Tower in Midtown East, the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle, and several buildings as part of Trump Place on the Upper West Side.

Costas Kondylis
Architect Costas Kondylis has died at his home aged 78

Kondylis was born in Central Africa, and attended boarding school in his parents' native Greece. After receiving a masters degree in architecture from the University of Geneva, he moved to New York and obtained a second masters from Columbia University in 1967.

The architect stayed in the city to work for firms including Davis Brody & Associates and Philip Birnbaum & Associates, before starting Costas Kondylis and Partners in 1989.

His breakthrough project was Manhattan Place, a huge condominium complex completed in 1984 at 36th Street and First Avenue. The 40-storey block caught the attention of Trump, who went on to hire Kondylis for his own residential towers in the city.

Trump International Hotel and Tower, Columbus Circle
Kondylis' buildings for Donald Trump in New York include the Trump World Tower (main image, by Casper Moller) and the Trump International Hotel and Tower (this image, by Ingfbruno)

"He had a great sense of design, and I liked him," Trump said in a documentary about Kondylis, produced by The Real Deal in 2012. "He was a young guy. I went up to the office, I saw him and I started giving him work."

His work rarely drew the attention of critics, but occasionally caused a stir. The height of the 90-storey Trump World Tower – the tallest residential tower in the world when it opened in 2001 – angered both neighbouring residents and the nearby United Nations at the time.

"I believe in skyscrapers," Kondylis told The New York Times in 2007. "It's the most environmental form of urban development."

Costas Kondylis and Partners dissolved in 2009, but the architect started a new firm, Kondylis Design, and continued to work at a rapid pace. Between 2000 and 2007, he designed 65 buildings — one every six weeks – according to The Real Deal.

Silver Towers by Costas Kondylis
Kondylis also frequently worked with New York developers like Larry Silverstein, on projects including the Silver Towers on Manhattan's West Side

He worked with New York's biggest developers, including Silverstein Properties and Moinian Group, and embraced his reputation as the "developer's architect".

"My concern is to create value for the developer because they're my clients," Kondylis told The New York Times.

Some of his more recent projects include the Silver Towers and River Place, which have helped spark the transformation of the skyline on Manhattan's West Side. The architect also completed buildings outside New York City, like the W South Beach hotel in Miami.