Wednesday March 20, 2024 | by Andrew Page

In Memoriam: Architect, artist, and longtime UrbanGlass board member Jeffrey Beers dies of cancer (1956 - 2024)

New York City-based architect Jeffrey Beers, founder and CEO of the successful hotel and hospitality design firm Jeffrey Beers International, died on Monday, March 18, 2024, from complications of cancer. Even as he built JBI into the global architecture firm it has become, and, with his wife, Connie, raised two sons, Beers found time to remain an active board member of UrbanGlass, which publishes the Glass Quarterly Hot Sheet. As an architecture student at Rhode Island School of Design, Beers had taken courses in glass with department chair Dale Chihuly, and, when he later moved to New York City, he continued to blow glass at The New York Experimental Glass Workshop before it moved to Brooklyn and became UrbanGlass. 

Beers was enlisted to design the gallery at the New York Experimental's Mulberry Street location, and, inspired by I.M.Pei, for whom he worked at the time, he created a glass-walled space that allowed visitors to see the glassblowing studios as they viewed artwork. When the artist organization relocated to Brooklyn in the early 1990s, Beers was engaged to re-imagine the sprawling 17,000-square-foot raw open space, which he would define and organize into a state-of-the-art facility with a glass-walled lobby entrance, a suite of offices, a gallery, and a full range of glass-making shops. Once more, when UrbanGlass was fully redesigned in 2013, Beers was invited to design the nonprofit's brand-new first-floor Agnes Varis Art Center and Robert Lehman Gallery.

Speaking on behalf of JBI, newly appointed partners Tim Rooney, Nora Liu-Kanter, and Michael Pandolfi state, “During this difficult time, our priority remains supporting Jeffrey's family and the JBI team as we navigate this loss. We ask for your understanding, patience, and privacy as we work through this period of grief and transition.” The architecture firm issued a statement citing their founder's "unwavering dedication to excellence, innovation, and integrity" and noting that his "compassionate leadership have inspired all who had the privilege of working with him."

In an email to the board, UrbanGlass chair Katya Heller issued the following sentiment: "Jeffrey had a steadfast dedication to UrbanGlass — as a glass lover, an early and enthusiastic studio user, a fellow Board member since 1987, and designer of the first iteration of our Strand theater studios — and his generosity, creativity, wisdom and talent will be greatly missed."

"Jeff was an amazing and passionate supporter for so many of our artists," said UrbanGlass artist and fellow board member Jamie Harris. "I so value and treasure the moments I had with him. He will be missed greatly."

UrbanGlass board member Laura Howat added "He was always so kind and thoughtful.  His input, and his just plain presence, will be sorely missed."

"What a loss!" writes board member Suzanne Jaffe about Beers. "He was a true gentleman, kind and engaging."

"It was always a pleasure working with Jeff over the years," added board member Fred Sanders.

Carl H. Pforzheimer III, former board chair of UrbanGlass said; "Jeffrey was a wonderful man whose smile and soft-spoken but always meaningful words of support and encouragement he gave to UrbanGlass over the years were priceless and will be missed terribly

Details of a memorial service for Beers, and how the public might honor his legacy, will be added to this entry as they become available.

In 2016, Beers delivered the Thomas J. Volpe lecture at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, where he spoke on the topic of "innovation." A recording of his talk can be viewed below.

Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.