Peter Wormser — a longtime Westporter and award-winning architect who valued the intersection of innovative design, community consciousness, and environmental sustainability — died last night, after battling leukemia. He was 69 years old.
Peter was 32 when he and colleague William Fellows won a nationwide design competition to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Manhattan’s Water Street. The memorial boasts a plain wall of glass brick, etched with excerpts of letters written from Vietnam — mostly from men and women in combat to friends and family at home — as well as political speeches and news dispatches.
The writing on the wall inspired a book and a documentary film, both called Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. Announcing the winning award, Mayor Ed Koch praised its design: ”What I like is its simplicity, and the fact that what will appear on the wall will be the comments of those who suffered. These comments will be a constant reminder of how much we owe the dead and how much we owe the living.”
Since its completion in 1985, Peter maintained a diverse architectural practice. His projects included multi-family housing developments in Manhattan and the Bronx, custom homes in Connecticut, ranches in California, and most recently the design of a new sustainable “green” town in Colorado.
Additionally he designed offices for the Ms. Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, MTV and Miramax, among others, as well as the Restoration Hardware flagship store in Manhattan, Furniture Row stores in the Southwest, and restaurants on both coasts.
A project close to his heart speaks to his love of community in Westport, where he lived for 2 decades with his wife of 40 years, Liz Milwe. Tim’s Kitchen at Wakeman Town Farm is a community gathering spot, named after their son who died in 2016.
Peter grew up in Stamford. He graduated from Pomfret School, and earned a BS in environmental science at Pitzer College, where he met his wife. After she graduated they moved to New York, and raised 3 children.
Later, Peter received an MA in architecture from Columbia University. He lived in NoHo for decades, where he designed the Children’s Museum of the Arts on Lafayette Street.
Peter was also a painter. At night he jogged around Washington Square Park, often returning to their loft with a fellow runner he had invited over for pasta primavera.
Peter cared deeply for the people around him. On summer weekends especially, he enjoyed spending long, delicious evenings with family and friends — young, old, and in between.
Peter was an excellent cook, who relished the role of chef and host. He shared his love of food with his 3 sons, and took pride in the side-by-side chopping, slicing and dicing, while taking time to reveal his osso buco or mango salsa secrets with them.
A lover of the garden, Peter tended to his many tomato plants with unusually precise attention.
He adored the water and snow, was an avid skier on both land and sea, and taught his boys to drive a boat, wakeboard in the sun, and carve the slopes with the best of them. Swimming at dusk in the Long Island Sound with his dog Jackson was also among his greatest pleasures in life.
In addition to his wife, Liz Milwe, Peter is survived by sons James and Jon Wormser; his brother, Tom Wormser; sister-in-laws Cindy Goodman Wormser, Marjorie Leiberman and Judy Milwe; nieces Cindy Milwe, Alison Milwe Grace, Julie Howes and Megan Wormser, and nephew Matt Wormser.
A memorial service is set for Sunday, July 25 (4 p.m., Cedar Point Yacht Club).
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made to Westport Friends of Park and Rec/Tim’s Kitchen, c/o Wakeman Town Farm, 134 Cross Highway, Westport CT 06880.