“I’d Like to Put Something Back,”
Says Architect Steve Roth ’68
While studying architecture at Cornell, Steve Roth ’68 was intrigued by the “nitty-gritty of how things are built and its importance in achieving quality design … all this construction technology that a lot of my classmates hated.”
That technical knowledge has served Roth well during his 40-year architectural career. Soon after graduating, when the National Park Service was renovating the federal immigration center on Ellis Island, he spent three years working on the island in the construction field office of the historic preservation firm that led the project.
For the last 17 years, Roth has tackled challenging historic restoration and renovation issues for the Smithsonian Institution while based in its Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City. “I make sure contractors build to design specs and solve the many problems that come up during construction,” he said.
Retiring this year, Roth plans to spend more time with his partner at their historic home on City Island, New York, and on his sailboat. Over the years he has supported Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning “in a minor way” but knew that someday he wanted to establish a scholarship in the technical aspects of architecture, a specialization that has given him a good life.
His means to do so was appreciated stock in a power utility company that Roth had owned since college. Selling it would have resulted in a large tax bill on the capital gain.
Instead, Roth donated the stock to Cornell in exchange for a charitable gift annuity that will provide him with guaranteed payments for life and an income-tax deduction. When he dies, the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning will use the remainder to create a named scholarship in memory of his father, Irving, who was himself a construction professional and educator.
“My career never would have gone in this direction if I hadn’t gotten the training I did at Cornell,” Roth said. “I received something valuable from this institution, and I’d like to put something back.”