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Remembrance: James M. Glavé


Glavé was reared in Ashland during the Depression, studied at the University of Pennsylvania (with modernist giant Louis Kahn) and began a life of travel and study of past architectural glories during military service in Italy.

He was a trailblazing preservationist who saw utility and beauty in old buildings. But he was also a modernist (he couldn't have studied with Kahn and been otherwise). His designs respected the past and valued contemporary needs simultaneously. While his buildings accented their environs, Glavé didn't shy from color or patterning to kick things up a notch.

If Glave gave so magnificently to Richmond, he was equally generous to fellow architects, particularly young talent he mentored. Among the area's best architects today are designers who came through his firm (Glavé Newman Anderson and later Glavé & Holmes) or who work there now.

"Those of us who started our practices in the 1980s and 1990s stand on his shoulders," says Will Scribner, a principal of SMBW Architects, a Richmond-based firm.

At Glavé's memorial service June 9 at the Virginia Historical Society, hundreds of admirers — childhood friends, chieftains of commerce and industry, Virginia intelligentsia — overflowed the hall. All recognized the spirit of the Rev. Ben H. Smith's remarks when he told how Glavé had once rebuilt his dining room table to accommodate all those attending a school reunion. "For Jim," Smith said, "there was a place at the table for everyone; there were no side tables."

Glavé's life and architecture reflected this same sense of hospitality. There was a place for all, and he spent his career making that place beautiful. — Edwin Slipek Jr.

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