Thomas Phifer founded Thomas Phifer and Partners in 1997. He takes a human-centered approach to design, connecting the built environment to the natural world. Thomas’s work has a sense of openness and community.
Born in Columbia, South Carolina, Thomas received his Bachelor of Architecture in 1975 and his Master of Architecture in 1977, both from Clemson University. In 1977 he studied at the Clemson Architecture Center in Genoa, Italy.
Thomas has served as a visiting professor at many architecture schools. He was appointed the William Henry Bishop Visiting Professor of Architectural Design and the Louis I Kahn Visiting Professor of Architectural Design, both at the Yale School of Architecture.
Among his most notable works is the expansion of the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, MD. It was designed to encourage visitors to slow down and make nature part of the museum experience. The Pavilions are a massive expansion of the original building and are made of stacked concrete blocks with floor-to-ceiling glass windows set around a marshy central pond.
He also completed an expansion of the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY, the United States Courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC, the Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University in Houston, Texas, an outdoor performance pavilion in Austin, and numerous houses in the Hudson River Valley of New York State.
He has received four Design Excellence awards from the General Services Administration and more than thirty honor awards from the American Institute of Architects, as well as numerous national and international citations. In 2022, he was elected as a lifetime member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
His work is super creative, using a mix of unique materials. What inspires me most about Thomas’s incredible designs is how the structures radiate light and seem to belong to the landscape they rise up from. I can’t wait to see what he will dream up in the future.