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Trump's architect of high towers dies, aged 78

New York

TRUMP Plaza. Trump Place. Trump Park Avenue. Trump World Tower. Trump International Hotel and Tower. They all have another name in common: Costas Kondylis.

Kondylis was the architect of choice for Donald Trump and other developers of luxury apartment towers in New York for three decades. He died on Aug 17 at his home in Manhattan at 78. The cause was complications of Parkinson's disease, his daughter Alexia Leuschen said.

Kondylis (pronounced kon-DEE-lis) was a senior partner at Philip Birnbaum & Associates from 1979 to 1989, when he founded Costas Kondylis & Associates. That practice, renamed Costas Kondylis & Partners in 2001, dissolved in 2009.

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As an architect, Kondylis did not so much have an aesthetic style as a business formula. He provided developers with efficient, marketable, dependable, comfortable buildings.

The designs won few prizes or critical plaudits, but they also caused few headaches for those who financed and built them.

"His clients trusted him on their projects to find the sweet spot between machines for living and profitability," architect David West said on Thursday. He is a founding partner of Hill West, which was formed by three alumni of the Kondylis firm.

Kondylis worked by the numbers, and the numbers were impressive. "From 2000 to 2007, he designed 65 buildings - so, one building every six weeks," the website The Real Deal calculated.

"I do the conservative approach, like Mercedes-Benz," Kondylis told The Times in 2011. Automotive analogies came easily to a man who enjoyed collecting Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Maseratis.

Trump World Tower, completed in 2001, was a striking 861-foot-tall exception to his conservatism. Erupting from a block opposite the United Nations, it was a monolithic slab of bronze glass so dark that it almost appeared black from some angles at certain times of day.

Kondylis was credited with persuading Mr Trump not to clad the building in gold-tinted glass.

Though Trump World Tower has since been dwarfed by a new generation of super-tall apartment buildings, it was phenomenally tall in its day - so tall that the Trump Organization marketed it as a 90-storey residence (there are actually only 72 floor levels.)

Well-heeled neighbours were infuriated by its size, and preservationists were dismayed that a new skyscraper visually overshadowed the UN Secretariat Building.

Besides Ms Leuschen, Kondylis is survived by another daughter, Katherine Kary Kondylis; four grandchildren; and two sisters, Mary Kalogreas and Penelope Kondylis. NYTIMES