Woody Rainey, longtime School of Design faculty member, passed away this May. The visiting assistant professor of interior design joined Pratt Institute in 2008 and taught through the fall of 2021.

The following was adapted from a remembrance sent to the Pratt Interior Design community by Chair of Interior Design David Foley, Rainey’s close friend and colleague.

Throughout the arc of his professional career, as colleagues all learned through their friendships with him, Rainey most valued drawing, teaching, and his projects at I.M. Pei & Partners and the Quilted Giraffe while at McDonough Rainey. 

In practice, his professional credentials run long and are remarkable: Skidmore Owings Merrill, Davis Brody, principal at KPF Interior Architects, the founder of McDonough Rainey, and his own studio. Of his time at I.M. Pei & Partners, he was most proud of contributing to the design of the plaza fountains and crystal skylights at the National Gallery of Art.

Focusing on interior and small-scale architecture, his design work is distinguished by a unique ability to understand complex user requirements and to interpret those needs with the most appropriate means within the language of modern architecture. Finished projects exhibit meticulous method and rigorous execution. His work has been awarded many design citations from academic, trade, and professional organizations, including local and national AIA awards and six Lumen Awards for lighting design. McDonough Rainey was named an “emerging voice” by The Architectural League of New York in 1985. Rainey also served on numerous design juries, including as chairman of the National AIA Interior Design Awards panel.

Combining two passions, Rainey taught drawing at Columbia University School of Architecture for many years. As a visiting professor at the University of Utah, he would frequently bring his thesis students to New York on site visits for their projects. Rainey found tremendous satisfaction teaching with colleagues at Pratt. Since the fall of 2008, Rainey taught across both undergraduate and graduate curricula, teaching drawing classes as well as construction and thesis, and becoming a friend to all and an inspiring mentor to his students.

Rainey was a founder of ONYX, an experimental communications partnership that published broadsheets on the subject of architecture in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The ONYX work was included in the Walker Art Gallery’s 2015 exhibition Hippie Modernism: the Struggle for Utopia and was the topic of a School of Design-sponsored conversation in 2016. Additionally, Rainey was the director of COMMONS, a New York City-based nonprofit devoted to community organization and housing development.

In the spring of 2022, the Interior Design Department exhibited Rainey’s hand drawings in undertaken to understand, a comprehensive presentation of his lifelong love of pencil and pen-and-ink explorations—reflective of Rainey’s ever-inquisitive nature.

The Interior Design Department will plan for a memorial service in the fall of 2023 when the Pratt community returns to campus.