Remembering Tom Zimmerman, FAIA


Close friend to many, former SWBR Principal, Thomas A. Zimmerman, FAIA, passed away peacefully on January 22, 2020 in Canandaigua, NY. Tom retired from the firm in 2008 after 24 years. Tom had been SWBR’s Managing Principal and taught the firm and the chapter much about being successful design professionals.


Tom graduated from Cornell University with undergraduate and graduate degrees in Architecture. He received distinguished recognition from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) as a Fellow in 1984 and was recognized with the Arizona Architects Medal for service to the profession, and the AIA Rochester Medal of Distinction.


In addition to these significant honors, Tom served the community on the FLCC Foundation Board, Town of Gorham Planning Board and was recently the president of the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association. He was also an active leader in local, state and national AIA organizations, the Professional Services Management Association, the Architectural Foundation of Greater Rochester, the Construction Specifications Institute, Bivona Child Advocacy Center Facilities Committee, YMCA of Greater Rochester Facilities Committee, Canandaigua Country Club Board of Directors, the Rochester Rotary, Clifton Springs Country Club Board of Directors and the Architects National Employer Trust.


Tom began his career as an Architect with the firm of Ribson & Roberts during which time he was the project manager of the team engaged in the site selection for Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua.


In 1968 he was called to active duty and served in the US Navy Civil Engineer Corps in The Republic of South Vietnam.


Tom moved to Phoenix, AZ in 1969 where he was employed with Mather Architects and then as principal of his own firm - Thomas A. Zimmerman Architects.


In 1984, Tom returned to Rochester, where he became Architecture Department Manager for Starks Wurzer Patterson & Romeo, now SWBR. In 1990, he was promoted to Managing Partner/Principal of SWBR, a position he held until his retirement.


When he retired from SWBR, Tom founded Z2 Architecture, to follow his passion to again run his own firm providing risk management, expert witness services and design firm leadership consulting.

Good friends like Tom will be long remembered. We reflect on the positive impact he had on the firm and each one of us personally. Live each day by Tom’s personal motto: “Live the legacy, love the lake, do no harm.”


At Tom’s request there will be no calling hours or services. For those who would like to honor Tom’s memory donations may be considered for the Architectural Foundation of Greater Rochester, 5 Castle Park, Rochester, NY 14620 or the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, P.O. Box 323 Canandaigua, NY 14424.


submitted by Lisa Fingar of SWBR

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