- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 18, 2005

Architect James Ingo Freed, the lead designer of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in the District, died Dec. 15 in his New York City home. He was 75.

Mr. Freed was born in 1930 in Essen, Germany, and came to the United States as a 9-year-old as the Nazi terror gathered momentum in Europe.

Mr. Freed went to work with the internationally renowned Pei group in 1956. But he built an independent reputation for his work on apartment houses, public buildings and office towers around the country.

Mr. Freed’s designs include the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in the District, the country’s second largest federal building; the giant glass caverns of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan and the half-modernist, half-Beaux Arts main public library in San Francisco.

However, his crowning project was the Holocaust museum, heralded by critics for its ability to evoke the death camps and ghettos described in its exhibits.

“This is an architecture that sears the memory and invades the dreams,” wrote Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune. In the New York Times, Herbert Muschamp called the museum “a work of such enormous power that it defies language.”

Mr. Freed, a nonobservant Jew who had lost touch with his heritage until he was hired for the museum project, told an interviewer from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1997 that he never knew how to react when people told him how much they liked the building.

At the time of his death, Mr. Freed was awaiting completion of the U.S. Air Force Memorial in Arlington, of which he was the principal designer.

The memorial, near the Pentagon, is composed of three asymmetrical stainless-steel spires — each more than 200 feet tall — designed to resemble contrails of Air Force jets peeling back in a “bomb burst” maneuver.

Mr. Freed is survived by a daughter, Dara Freed, and a grandson. His wife, Hermine, died in 1998.

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