Radoslav Sutnar, the Czech-American architect, expert in land development, patron of culture, younger son of Ladislav Sutnar, passed away in Los Angeles on Monday, 11 December, at the age of 94.
Radoslav L. Sutnar was born in Prague on 25 July 1929 to parents Františka Sutnar and Ladislav Sutnar as their second child.
He grew up in the family of a successful artist and educator, but in a country over which the clouds of impending occupation and war were gathering. When he was ten years old, his father emigrated to the USA after Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia. His mother and the boys were supposed to flee to him via Poland, but World War II began, and Radoslav, his brother and mother remained trapped in the Protectorate. Because his father actively cooperated with the Beneš government in emigration, the sword of Damocles in the form of the Gestapo hung over his family until the end of the war.
After the war, they managed to get in touch with their father, who was living and working in New York, and the family went to see him in 1946. They originally thought they would return, but Czechoslovakia's alignment with the Soviet Union, which resulted in a communist coup in 1948, caused them to decide to stay in the US. And so Radoslav began his studies.
He first studied at the Pratt Institute in the Bachelor of Architecture programme. His activities at that time were multifaceted. Besides studying architecture, he also worked in administration and in his third year he was the editor of the student magazine Sleepy Relic.
In 1955, he received his Bachelor of Architecture degree. After graduation, he was awarded the Katz, Weisman, Blumenkrantz, Stein, and Weber Fellowship to continue in the graduate programme that the Pratt Institute was then establishing. At the same time, he taught at the institute. Later, he received his Master of Architecture degree there.
After graduating from the Pratt Institute, Radoslav was awarded a scholarship to continue his studies at Harvard University, where he received his Master in City Planning (MCP) in 1958. At Harvard, he also studied history, planning, law and economic development of underdeveloped countries at MIT.
After graduation, he stayed in Boston and worked as an architect-planner for industrial and commercial development companies (e.g. Cabot, Cabot & Forbes). One of his projects was the master plan for Technology Square, an office and research incubator next to MIT in Cambridge.
Following his Boston assignments, he joined the State University of New York Building Fund, which was responsible for the planning, design and construction of 22 SUNY campuses. Then, as he used to say, California called him. He began working on economic and financial studies, first at DMJM, then at UCLA in affiliated research at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning. His assignment was to work on a new master plan for the city of Los Angeles.
He gradually transitioned from planning to land development consulting, assisting property and land owners in analyzing, selecting programs, and achieving development of their properties.
It wasn't until deep into middle age that he found the love of his life, Elaine Ford. They agreed to marry secretly "on a trial basis". As it turned out, it was a great love and a perfect partnership for decades - for the rest of their lives.
After the death of his father Ladislav Sutnar, Radoslav took care of his estate. After the Velvet Revolution, he arranged for a part of his collections to be transferred to Czech museums.
In 2011, he agreed to the naming of the Ladislav Sutnar Gallery in Pilsen, and later he also gave his permission to the naming of the art faculty, the Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art. Radoslav L. Sutnar became friends with the founder of the Faculty, Josef Mištera, and together they realised the project The Return of Ladislav Sutnar. The tradition of awarding the Ladislav Sutnar Prize to leading world personalities and institutions dealing with design was established, a number of exhibitions were held, presenting the extensive and versatile work of Ladislav Sutnar, and the Faculty published a number of books about him. The Sutnar Foundation - the Radoslav and Elaine Sutnar Foundation was established, which holds his copyrights. On the initiative of Radoslav L. Sutnar, the Archives of American Art sent 26 boxes of Ladislav Sutnar's American archives to the Faculty to establish an archive of his work. He also donated several of his father's works to the City of Pilsen and 25 Venus paintings to the Faculty so that a permanent exhibition of Ladislav Sutnar could be established. He moved his father's remains from New York to the honorary grave within the Central Cemetery in Pilsen. On his father's behalf, he received the Medal of Merit of the 1st degree from President Václav Havel, later also the honorary citizenship of the City of Pilsen, and unveiled a plaque commemorating his father at his birthplace. He himself received the Historical Seal of the City of Pilsen and the Art Award of the City of Pilsen. He developed a warm relationship with the city and his great wish was to be buried near his father in Pilsen.