Gustav Werner Rohrs, retired professor of Interior Design at Pratt Institute who also served as department chair during his tenure, passed away on April 2, 2024. He was 92.

Rohrs taught at Pratt for 34 years, from his hiring as a visiting assistant professor in 1979 through tenure and up until his retirement in 2013, connecting with generations of students and making notable contributions to his department and the Institute.

Rohrs’s daughter Kirsten Rohrs Schmitt shared an obituary highlighting just some of these achievements, excerpted below for Those We Have Lost.

A man of many talents, Gus had a distinguished and multifaceted career as a teacher, cabinetmaker, and architect. He was born on December 15, 1931, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, to Erna Lorenz Rohrs and Gustav Arthur Rohrs. Gus’s mother, a baby nurse, and his father, a liquor salesman and bar owner, emigrated to America from northern Germany in the late 1920s.

Gus’s educational journey began at Brooklyn Technical High School, where he majored in architecture and graduated in 1949. He furthered his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1954. While at MIT, he served for one year as president of the Sigma Nu fraternity, and rowed starboard stroke on the varsity men’s heavyweight crew team, which raced on the Charles River. Gus served in the US Navy from 1955 to 1956 and married his first wife Adrienne Marchese (deceased) shortly afterward. They had two daughters, Kirsten Rohrs Schmitt and Nadia Rohrs.

Gus was a tenured professor in the Interior Design Department at Pratt Institute from 1986 to 2013, and he met his devoted wife Meri, a professor and artist, at Pratt in the late 1980s. Gus also served as the department chair from 1986 to 1997, teaching undergraduate and graduate design, building construction, and working drawings. From 1997 to 2013, Gus and Meri served as the Pratt campus co-coordinators of the popular Danish Institute for Study Abroad program in Copenhagen, quadrupling the student attendance.

Prior to his tenure at Pratt, Gus shared his expertise as a faculty member at various institutions, including Orange County Community College, Parsons School of Design, and the New York Institute of Technology. 

From 1974 to 1988, Gus ran his own cabinet-making shop in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. He also worked as an architect at several prestigious firms in New York City and Germany, including Richard R. Moger’s practice, where from 1966 to 1974, he led projects such as health and physical education buildings on SUNY’s Potsdam and Buffalo campuses. Prior to this, Gus served as architectural project manager at the esteemed architect Edward Larrabee Barnes’s firm. He managed the erection of the US Consulate in Tabriz, Iran, and student buildings at Rochester Institute of Technology and SUNY Potsdam. Gus also served as an architect at Lorimer Rich & Associates and Werner Both, BDA, in Essen, Germany.

Outside of his professional endeavors, Gus passionately enjoyed pursuing his hobbies as an avid photographer, writer, world traveler, and bon vivant. He was known for his great sense of humor, generosity, and warmth. Gus was adored by family, friends, colleagues, and several generations of former students, in the US, Europe, and Asia.

Gus will be remembered for his zest for life, dedication to his work, and his love for Meri and his daughters. He leaves behind a legacy of creativity and knowledge that will continue to inspire those who knew him.

A fall memorial on Pratt’s campus is being planned and more information will be shared by Pratt’s School of Design with the community as plans develop.