Thomas Aidala AR’55

Thomas Aidala, FAIA, Architecture 1955, has helped shape cities worldwide through design for more than thirty years.  Thomas grew up in the Bronx and discovered his talent for art and design at an early age. He was admitted to the highly selective New York High School of Music and Art and then The Cooper Union. he graduated from the Cooper Union School of Architecture in 1955. He went on to the University of California at Berkeley College of Architecture and then spent three years in Rome working with Luigi Moretti, Walter Gropius, and The Architects Collective. 

When he returned to the U.S., he worked with DeMars & Reay and worked on the Student Center Complex and Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley. He helped develop a set of urban design principles.  The San Francisco Urban Design Plan gained international recognition for its emphasis on appropriate placement, height, and bulk of structures and pathways in relation to human needs and the landscape.   

From 1971 to 1974 Thomas Aidala served as the Director of Planning and Design with the Greater Hartford Community Development Corporation, an experimental approach to city renewal which included the design of a new town in Coventry, CT. 

Thomas Aidala returned to private practice in 1974 as an architect/urban design consultant. His projects addressed many variables from the design of a new city for 350,000 people in Saudi Arabia to a design for St. Helena, CA.  Later, he was the Principal Architect, Urban Designer and Principal Design Consultant for the San Jose Redevelopment Agency where he directed the rebuilding of Downtown San Jose.

Thomas Aidala was an artist. He produced many media-drawings, paintings, sculpture, collages, calligraphy, and pieces of furniture. He was a founding member of the Sunday Afternoon Watercolor Society (SAWS) and the SPQA, an Italian social group.

Ink drawing created by Thomas Aida

Thomas Aida passed away in 2016.


In 1996 he was honored with the AIA Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. The Thomas Jefferson Award is presented annually to recognize excellence in architectural advocacy and achievement in the public realm.

Thomas Aidala received the 1996 Cooper Union President’s Citation and the 1999 CUAA Augustus Saint Gaudens Award. He was inducted into the The Cooper Union Hall of Fame in 2009.


Aidala, Thomas, The Great Houses of San Fransisco, 1987. Link

Aidala, Thomas, Hearst Castle: San Simeon, Harrison House, 1988. Link

Additional Links

  • Thomas Aidala Obituary, San Francisco Chronicle, February 27, 2016. Link
  • Tom Aidala Dies; architect for downtown San Jose renaissance, The Mercury News, Link
  • Aidala, Thomas, The Power of a Line, AIA California, February 3, 2018. Link
  • Adams, Gerald D., S.F. architect wins award for his work in downtown San Jose, SF Gate, January 9, 1996. Link