Peter F. Arfaa
(November 7, 1935 - January 15, 2022)
February 09, 2022
It is with great sadness that we need to inform the Drexel Design community that Peter Arfaa has died. Peter Arfaa joined the Drexel Architecture faculty in 1972 and served there for 39 years, including 9 years as Department Head (1976-1985). In 1992 Peter and his wife Anne endowed The Farajollah & Maryam Badie Arfaa Lecture Series that was named in honor of Peter’s parents. This was the first endowed lecture series at Drexel University and since its creation, the series has brought over 80 internationally recognized speakers to campus. Peter received the Mozino Blue & Gold Award for service to the University in 1995, and the Laura Campbell Award for distinguished teaching in 1996. Of course, Peter’s greatest contribution to Drexel was his tireless teaching and kind mentoring to innumerable Drexel students. Irascible and highly opinionated but also hilarious, charming, kind, and warm, he made friends of nearly everyone he met.
Peter’s life story was truly remarkable. Adopted out of a Jewish orphanage in Germany just before the start of World War II, he was raised by his adopted parents in Tehran, Iran where he described being surrounded by a large and loving extended family. He was sent to complete his secondary education at St. Edmonds School in Canterbury, England. He then enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania, where his father hoped he would pursue medicine, but Peter had other plans and he received a BA in History in 1959, and a Bachelor of Architecture in 1962.
Peter decided to remain in Philadelphia and went on to work for Vincent G. Kling & Partners, Montgomery, Bishop & Arnold, and Murphy, Levy, Wurman before founding Friday Architects with colleagues Donald Matzkin and David Slovic in 1970. Peter subsequently served as Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects, Philadelphia Chapter from 1974 to 1979, and then returned to successful practice, both with partners and independently. He closed his final practice, Peter F. Arfaa, Architects, in 2012.
Peter’s service to the profession was extensive. He was a Member of the Pennsylvania Board of Licensure from 1985 to 1993, and its chairman from 1991 to 1993. He also served as a Director of the Pennsylvania Society of Architects. In 1983 he was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects.
Peter Arfaa’s numerous community activities demonstrated his profound generosity of spirit and commitment to Quaker values and education. He served as a member Board of Trustees of the Wagner Free Institute of Science, Chairman of the Board of Friends’ Central School, member of the Lansdowne Friends’ School Committee, and the Stratford Friends’ School Committee. He also served as President of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, and Secretary of the Center City Residents Association, and was a member of the Board of Trustees of the University City Arts League.
Peter Arfaa died peacefully in his sleep and is survived by his wife Anne Hollingsworth Arfaa, sons Christopher M. Arfaa (Allison), David H. Arfaa (Jennifer), and grandchildren Margaret Anne Arfaa and Christopher H. Arfaa. The family wishes to thank the Phoebe Wyncote Skilled Nursing Facility for the care they provided to Peter in his last months. The family also requests that gifts in Peter’s memory be directed to Drexel’s Arfaa Lecture Fund (https://giving.drexel.edu/Arfaa) or the Wagner Free Institute of Science of Philadelphia (http://wagnerfreeinstitute.org/support.shtml). A memorial honoring Peter’s legacy will be held in the spring.