Jeffrey Beers, Hospitality Design Pioneer, Dies at 67

Jeffrey Beers, an innovative architect who transformed the hospitality industry with his fresh and unexpected designs, recently passed away after battling cancer at the age of 67. Known for living life to the fullest, a glance at his immense accomplishments raises the question: What hasn’t Beers done?

From studying with Oscar Niemeyer as a Fulbright scholar in Brazil to working with I.M. Pei in New York and later founding his own firm, Jeffrey Beers International (JBI), in the mid-1980s, Beers built a career grounded in adventure and a deep love of design. He even counted glassblowing among his skills, which he learned from artist Dale Chihuly while studying architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design. These distinct experiences shaped his signature style, which infuses Modernism with emotion, creating experiential spaces that leave a lasting impression.

Take Jay-Z’s Roc Nation office in Chelsea, New York. After first connecting with rap superstar Shawn Corey Carter, or Jay-Z, to design the 40/40 Club in 2003, Beers was later tapped to create a dynamic workplace for his entertainment company, which was formed as a joint venture with Live Nation.

Whether working on luxurious hotels, like The Newbury Boston, or creating a mixed-use development that nods to the area’s history as he did in Norfolk, Virginia, Beers knows what it takes to generate a sense of awe with his visionary work. His designs also reflect his ability to maintain lasting relationships with clients and communities alike.

“Jeffrey and I shared a deep connection early on. I always relished lunching at a favorite haunt where the chef was his pal, and we would feast on food and dish on design,” shares Interior Design Editor-in-Chief Cindy Allen. “And then there are so many work memories, like touring Roc Nation in Chelsea where the client wanted to show off their space and working with Jeffrey. That’s because he was the absolute nicest guy who was a deeply generous, engaging, and lovely man.”

Jeffrey Beers
Jeffrey Beers. Photography courtesy of Jeffrey Beers International.

Those who worked with Beers at his namesake firm shared similar sentiments. “Jeffrey’s impact on our studio, the architectural industry, the hospitality design industry and countless communities around the world is immeasurable. His unwavering dedication to excellence, innovation, and integrity has shaped JBI into the renowned firm it is today. His creative genius and compassionate leadership have inspired all who had the privilege of working with him,” newly appointed partners Tim Rooney, Nora Liu-Kanter and Michael Pandolfi expressed in a statement.

Beers’s legacy is perhaps best reflected in his own words. “One of the keys to successful, long-lasting restaurant design is a harmonious, theatrical environment, in which cuisine and operation and environment are all on the same page,” Beers told Interior Design in a 2013 interview. “None of them should outshine the other. Restaurants are inherently meeting places, and should be very festive. A restaurant’s design is a background against which guests can be the stars—stimulating them to be social and smile. The key is to be very aware of who your guests are, and what’s the personality of the owner.” This, in essence, sums his approach to hospitality spaces, like Manhattan’s storied China Grill, ever forging ahead with a people-first mindset. That mindset also led to numerous awards, including a 2023 Interior Design Best of Year honoree for the firm’s design of the US Bank Tower.

Roc Nation office designed by Jeffrey Beers
Roc Nation’s private reception area on the sixth floor. Photography by Eric Laignel.

Outside of the studio, Beers enjoyed spending time sculpting with molten glass, deep-sea fishing off the coast of the Atlantic, and cooking meals for family and friends. “I will always remember Jeffrey for his undeniable talent for sure—and the indelible mark he left on design with hundreds of projects—but also for his humanity, and how he proved to us all the power of being good, and then sharing goodness with the world,” adds Allen.

Beers is survived by his wife, Connie, and his two sons, Justin and Oliver.

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