Rod Garrett, design director of the Washington, D.C., office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, died suddenly on June 27 while in Chicago, attending the American Institute of Architects convention. Garrett would have turned 54 on Aug. 7.

Garrett, who joined SOM in 1986, focused on public and institutional projects and was considered an expert in the public agency and review process.

"He was recognized that way," says Mark Regulinski, managing director of SOM's New York City and Washington, D.C., offices. "He got his AIA fellowship designation on the strength of his expertise," he adds.


Garrett received his bachelor of architecture in 1983 and his master of architecture in 1985—both from Oklahoma State University. He was also a registered professional engineer in D.C., New York state and Virginia. In addition to becoming an AIA fellow last year, Garrett was a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and the Urban Land Institute.

At the time of his death, Garrett was working on the International Monetary Fund HQ1 Renewal in Washington, D.C. Estimated completion for the 1.9-million-sq-ft project is 2016. IMF rented a bus to get people to his memorial service, says Regulinski, which was attended by 400 people. "It says a lot about how attractive a person was," he adds.

Another current project of Garrett's is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Headquarters, a renovation of a 1970s-era seven-story, 350,000-sq-ft building adjacent to the White House complex. Completion is set for 2016, as well.

"Rod would take highly functional but not acclaimed building types and make them special," says Regulinski.

He is survived by his wife, Rachel, and their two teenage sons, Benjamin and Nathaniel.

His recent projects include the master plan and renovation of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, the U.S. Census Bureau Headquarters and campus in Suitland, Md., and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Headquarters in Alexandria, Va.