Corrections or additions?
This article was prepared by Nicole Plett for the September 26,
2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Reflections of a Father
Like father, like son, used to be a familiar catch
phrase. But where Cody Eckert and her father, the late Nicholas
are concerned, "Like father, like daughter" is closest to
Cody A. Eckert, architect, artist, principal of Cody Eckert &
on Clarksville Road, will host a one-evening exhibit of
of Zermatt" in memory of her father Nicholas G. Eckert, at Tre
Piani Restaurant in Forrestal Village on Friday, September 28.
The exhibit is a family affair in which architect Cody pays tribute
to her father, a well-known, award-winning architect, and introduces
guests to her firm’s recent and ongoing projects. Nicholas Eckert,
who died last year at age 79, was a principal of the firm Eckert,
Morton, Russo, and Maggio Architects, (now Morton Russo Maggio) in
Eckert was also a licensed private pilot and an avid skier who spent
considerable time, during 20 post-retirement years, in Zermatt,
His special love for the Swiss Alps, in particular the magnificent
Matterhorn peak, inspired his daughter’s painting series,
of Zermatt," based on her memories of the beauty spot.
"This event has turned into something so massive," says Cody
Eckert, with passion, in an interview from her Princeton Junction
office. "I think this is both because of the show’s concept, and
because of what’s happened with the terrorists, too. It has increased
the meaning of it." Among her father’s accomplishments was his
health and vitality. "He skied every day. He never had a sick
day in his life, not until the last two years."
According to her father’s wishes, his ashes were scattered over the
Matterhorn. "The family went over for that, but his many friends
and colleagues could not," says Cody. Returning from Switzerland,
she devised the idea of taking time to create a painting series based
on her fond memories of the region, and also to organize a tribute
event that friends and family could share.
Nicholas Eckert was born in New Brunswick. "He was
an artist in the sense that he was a great musician, a trumpet player,
and once led the Louisiana State University band," says Cody.
He was also a sculptor, and served as a captain in the U.S. Army.
After LSU, Eckert studied at the Chicago Institute of Design under
the famous architect, color theorist, and former director of the
in Germany, Walter Gropius.
"He and my uncle Charlie were builders before my father started
his architectural firm," says Cody. "He designed and built
our family home, a single-story, Frank Lloyd Wright-style house. It
was all glass, floor to ceiling; every house seemed dark to me after
that. My father also designed and built all the furniture in our home.
He even designed and built our cribs," says his daughter.
he gave it all away — and I wish he hadn’t."
Cody Eckert’s mother, Ruth Cody Eckert (who also calls herself Cody),
is well known to many of her firm’s clients. She came to work in her
daughter’s office in the mid-1980s, two or three years after she
the business, and stayed for close to a decade.
"She was afraid at first," says Cody, "but I told her
we’d learn together. And we did." Ruth Eckert managed the office,
and took care of reception and bookkeeping. She, too, was a licensed
pilot. Now retired and living in the Rossmoor community, Ruth Eckert
heads the Hangar Flying Club, a group of World War II and private
pilots, most of them now retired. "We chose the name because most
of our planes stay in the hangar now," she says.
Ruth Cody Eckert also takes particular pride in her colorful family
background. Buffalo Bill Cody — or William F. Cody known as
Bill Cody, as she prefers to call him — was her great, great
"Every first daughter in the family is traditionally named
explains daughter Cody. Her younger sister, Janis Eckert, is director
of global resources at Ernst and Young.
Nicholas Eckert’s firm took commissions all over the state of New
Jersey. During the baby boom 1960s, there was a great demand for
which became one of the firm’s specialties. His projects include East
Brunswick Vocational School, the JFK Hospital in Edison, Middlesex
County College, and his firm’s three South Brunswick office buildings
that are something of a landmark on Route 130. "They have redwood
veneer and a signature blue window trim that became known as `Eckert
Blue,’" says Cody.
Now Cody Eckert’s firm has become known for its artistic approach
and use of color in its buildings.
Cody Eckert began her education in architecture in 1978 and
her firm in 1983. She graduated from Syracuse University with a
of architecture degree and a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in
design. Before attending Syracuse, she attended the Philadelphia
of Art studying art and environmental design. She has also studied
privately with the artist Vincent Ceglia and painter and illustrator
William A. Smith. Eckert says her travel throughout the United States
and Europe has inspired her to paint. She has had solo shows of art
work in many media.
"In the past, I was shocked to learn that most architecture was
devoid of color," she says. "During a certain period it was
even fashionable to create what was known as `white architecture.’
And I thought, We have such a wide range of color in life, why are
we not using it in our building? This became an issue for me, one
I wanted to follow and study.
"I started utilizing my background and studies in art to draw
on what I knew about color, and how color can create certain feelings
of space and mood. When I use color in my building, it is always an
analytical application, never a form of decoration," she says.
When her firm took on the design of the region’s first
freestanding hospice, Cody’s research indicated widespread use of
green walls in hospitals in the past. "I learned that hospitals
used green walls because green brought out the red pigment in the
skin and made the patients look healthier," she says. "So
I also used green in my building, but I used a little nicer, paler
"This is not a sales show, it’s a celebration of my father’s new
life, but there will be things for sale there, including photographs
of paintings as mementos," says Eckert. But while she had
announced that a portion of proceeds would be donated to the Amyloid
Fund (fighting the disease from which her father died), she has now
chosen a charity that will support survivors of those who gave their
lives in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Two recent completed projects by Cody Eckert & Associates are the
Children’s Home Society of New Jersey headquarters, a
office facility in the Roebling Market, and the $40 million Sovereign
Bank Arena, both in Trenton.
In mid-September, Eckert’s firm, in association with Gwathmey Siegel
Associates of New York, was awarded the design of the new $60 million
Campus Center and Academic Building for the NJIT Campus in Newark.
This project is currently in the construction documents phase and
is being designed to become the major focal point of the campus.
NJIT added two additional building renovations to the scope of the
project, the renovation of Eberhardt and Cullimore Halls, currently
reflecting a total budget of $75 million. The new contracts mean that
Cody’s eight-person office is also seeking new employees.
— Nicole Plett
Ristorante, Forrestal Village, 609-452-1515. Reservations recommended.
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