Wayne J. Troyer, an architect who brought an artistic eye to his building designs and civic endeavors, died Saturday of pancreatic cancer. He was 66.
A native of New Orleans, Troyer received degrees in music from Loyola University — he was trained in classical guitar — and in architecture from Tulane University. After working for the campus architect at Tulane and at the firm Concordia Architects, Troyer founded studioWTA in 1992.
Troyer was known in particular for the restoration of historic buildings, for “bringing fresh new ideas to architecture, design and technology, blending modern and new,” said Julie Babin, a studioWTA partner and architect.
Babin said a love of art and interest in artists also informed Troyer’s work, for he believed that art can affect “how we do architecture.”
Teresa Cole, Troyer’s longtime companion, said he was a “Renaissance man with an interest in architecture, music and art. He saw music and art as an integral part of architecture.”
“I think Wayne taught us how to be curious,” said Tracie Ashe, another studioWTA partner and architect. “He was a big proponent of learning every day, and he taught us every day.”
“He had a saying about challenges: ‘Well, at least we learned or can grow from that,’ ” said Babin.
Ashe added of his philosophy: “Think positively and rise to the challenges and situations that are difficult, and continuously challenging ourselves.”
Among Troyer's projects were Mussafer Hall at Tulane University, Hotel Peter & Paul, the Rice Mill Lofts, The Pythian, Arthur Roger Gallery, The Julian Apartments, the St. Joseph Rebuild Center, 566 Emerald St. and 511 Marigny.
Troyer partnered with other firms on projects including the sustainable renovation of the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life at Tulane.
His personal residence received an Honor Award from the New Orleans chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Julian Mutter hired Troyer to restore and reinvent the 511 Marigny building, originally built in 1895 as a hosiery factory. It was converted into a residential building that also houses the restaurant Paladar 511.
“When I first engaged him to do 511 Marigny,” said Mutter, “I told him I wanted the building to be as simple as possible — less is more — and in no way to try to force something. He saw the deep spirituality, the beauty of simple things and in the details.”
Mutter, who first met Troyer in the 1970s but lost touch with him after that, reconnected when they were on the board of the New Orleans Film Society, of which Troyer became president.
“He was passionate about giving back to the city and the community,” Cole said.
Troyer often did reviews of students' final projects at the Tulane School of Architecture. “He loved to meet young architecture students and being a mentor to them. It was crucial and important," said Cole.
“He felt he had as much to learn from young architects as they did from him.”
In addition to the Film Society, he was active with the Historic District Landmarks Commission's Architectural Review Committee, the Preservation Resource Center, the Contemporary Arts Center and KID smART.
After Hurricane Katrina, he worked on initiatives such as the Bring New Orleans Back Commission, the United New Orleans Plan and Operation Comeback.
Besides Cole, survivors include a daughter, Michelle Troyer; a brother, Robert Troyer of Slidell; and a grandson.
A memorial will be held for Troyer on Sun. June 9 at Marigny Opera House, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Wayne Troyer Fund at the School of Architecture at Tulane University.