O B I T U A R Y
Rapkin was noted urban planner, professor of architecture
Chester Rapkin, a leading urban planner, died Jan. 28 at the age of 82. Rapkin was a professor of architecture, emeritus, at the University and well known for his efforts to apply new research findings to the solution of practical problems of the metropolitan region.
Rapkin served as a member of the New York City Planning Commission under Mayors John Lindsay and Abraham Beame. He also acted as executive director of the White House Task Force that proposed the Model Cities Program. He graduated from City College of New York in 1939 and received the Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1953.
Rapkin was responsible for a number of innovative studies that initiated many fields of activity. He did the first theoretical work on housing market analysis, integrated housing, analysis of urban traffic, the actuarial analysis of the Federal Housing Administration and private mortgage insurance, economic consequences of urban renewal, economic aspects of residential fires and industrial renewal. His study of Soho in 1962 is reputed to have stopped the imminent demolition and clearance of the area proposed at that time. He was the author of 15 books and monographs and more than 100 professional articles, plans and reports.
Rapkin was on the faculty at Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania before joining the Princeton faculty in 1973. After his formal retirement from Princeton in 1988, Rapkin continued to supervise and examine Ph.D. students. In his 50 years in higher education, he taught thousands of students, including 76 Ph.D. candidates of whom more than 50 received the degree. This was 15 percent of all the doctorates in the field at that time. His students went on to become prominent planners, professors, deans and university presidents.
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Eva Samuel Rapkin, and his son, David Rapkin. Contributions may be made to the Chester Rapkin Award given by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning for the best paper published annually in the association's Journal of Planning Education and Research.