Andrew R. Passacantando, celebrated architect in NY and NJ, died peacefully on April 3 in Morristown, NJ of complications from sarcoma. He was 58 years old.
Andrew is survived by his wife of 18 years, partner and soulmate for 28 years, Barbara Conte, his parents Raymond and Marie Passacantando, his brother John Passacantando (Lisa Guide), sister Lisa Streger (Jeff), nephew David Streger (Nicole Kramer) and nieces Sophia and Mollie Passacantando, and Nicole and Julia Streger.
Sole proprietor of Passacantando Architects AIA since 1999, Andrew created masterwork restorations and new builds in the historical, colonial, classical, and modern styles, as well as his trademark shingle style. He was a dedicated AIA member, as well as an early adopter and proficient designer using 3-D modelling.
His simultaneous attention to both exacting detail and the overall aesthetic impact of design was notable, building a client base of families looking to construct beautiful and livable residential properties. His client list was a who’s who of NJ’s elite in business, politics, and philanthropy, with last names including Christie, Kirby, Goryeb and Wentworth.
While residential work was his focus, he was also principal architect for the renovations of Morristown’s Community Theatre that began in 2010, an historic theatre built in 1937, now known as the Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC). His blending of art deco and colonial elements reflected the history of the theatre and Morristown itself – where he, Barbara and their beloved dog Mia lived. In July 2016, the renovated theatre earned the distinction of Outstanding Historic Theatre by the League of Historic American Theatres.
While a web search of his name will show many trophy homes, Andrew generously spent time on projects of all sizes for relatives, friends of family and friends of friends.
Design NJ Magazine featured two of his homes, the first June/July 2017: “A House with a View” shingle style home and the second in December 2022/January 2023: “Fashionable Fusion” a style Andrew called a modern farmhouse. That house caused one visitor who toured it to say it not only was a stunning home but walking through it felt like being in an amazing sculpture.
Andrew Raymond Passacantando was born November 24, 1964 and spent his childhood in Whippany, NJ. He graduated from Whippany Park High School Class of 1983, and from the University of Arizona in 1988 with a Masters in Architecture. His first job was at Swanke Hayden Connell Architects in New York drafting Wall Street firm interiors. That only held him for a few years, until an aunt living in Florida inspired him to head south to get in on the building boom in single family houses there.
Andrew quit his coveted job, bought a secondhand Honda V65 Magna motorcycle, whittled his possessions down to what would fit in the saddlebags and tank bag and took off for Florida. He was proud that his motorcycle was in the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest production motorcycle in the world. His family was much relieved that he didn’t keep it long, as he said the frequent and torrential rain in Florida was not conducive to motorcycle riding.
For five years, Andrew designed and built what he described as “lots of Palm Beach stuff” which involved extensive hands-on construction – part of the reason that he would later be so beloved by the builders of his large designs. This was an architect who had spent an enormous amount of time on job sites.
After Florida, he returned to his roots in Morristown, NJ and within a few years launched his sole proprietorship. A relaxed manner, an obsessive attention to detail, and his stunning home designs are the stuff of legend among the building community. One of the builders of his largest homes recently recounted a story of one of the very few times he ever had any tension with Andrew.
The builder and Andrew were working on a very large new home. The owner was anxious for the project to move faster. The builder asked Andrew to speed up the massive order of windows and doors that the house would need. “In a totally relaxed reply he said to me, ‘Yeah, there’s something about that project that I haven’t figured out yet. I am going to take a lawn chair and sit out on the property tomorrow so I can really understand how the sun is moving over the property.’ The builder roared, ‘Who does that?’ ‘He’s not even billing for that.’ ‘He’s an artist.’”
And it was with an artist’s touch that Andrew engaged his many other interests. Barb and Andrew made regular trips to Miami to see the latest buildings and designs. They particularly loved Wynwood Walls. Andrew’s other interests included competitive archery, a love of surf fishing in NJ and Montauk with family and friends, a pursuit that involved much laughter but that also had a spiritual dimension, as did his deer hunting with bow, rifle and muzzleloader. His love of the outdoors was no doubt rooted in family camping trips to the Maine woods and coastal islands. He and Barb also loved bike riding, canoeing, hiking, and cross country skiing in the Adirondacks.
A celebration of Andrew’s life will take place on Friday, April 28th at 12:45 pm at the Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) in Morristown, NJ. All are welcome.
The family requests that those who wish to make a donation to express their sympathy consider making a donation to St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, P.O. Box 159, Madison, NJ, 07940 or to the MAYO Performing Arts Center (MPAC) 100 South Street, Morristown, NJ 07960.