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He is perhaps best known for the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, North Carolina, the Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University in Houston, Texas and the design for the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland. Around 2006, Phifer won New York City‘s City Lights Design Competition, which began replacing the city’s high-pressure sodium streetlights with new standard LED streetlights starting in 2011.
Phifer was born in Columbia, South Carolina. He earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1975 and a Master of Architecture degree in 1977, both from Clemson University. He also studied at the Daniel Center for Architecture and Urban Studies in Genoa, Italy in 1976.
Phifer held the Stevenson Chair at the University of Texas and taught at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Reception and awards
The San Francisco Chronicle's architecture critic John King described Phifer as "a master of meticulous modernism who has won praise for gem-like private homes and such cultural facilities as [the 2015] addition to the Corning Museum of Glass", but criticized 222 Second Street (Phifer's first commercial office highrise, completed by Tishman Speyer in 2016) as "designed and built by New Yorkers" without taking the building's San Francisco surroundings into account.
Phifer received the Rome Prize in Architecture from the American Academy in Rome in 1995, and was honored with a residency the following year at the Academy’s campus. In 2004, Phifer was awarded the Medal of Honor from the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Phifer’s Salt Point House won an American Architecture Award from the Chicago Atheneum in 2008. In 2009, he received a Research and Development Award from Architect magazine for his international competition-winning design for New York City’s City Lights light fixture.
In 2011, Phifer received a Fellowship from the American Institute of Architects. Phifer was also elected as an Academician for the National Academy of Design in 2012. Phifer’s buildings have won seven AIA National Honor Awards and fourteen AIA New York Honor Awards. In 2013, Phifer was awarded the Architecture Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
- North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, North Carolina
- Raymond and the Susan Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University in Houston, Texas
- Salt Point House, Hudson River Valley, New York
- Millbrook House in the Hudson River Valley, New York 
- Taghkanic House in the Hudson River Valley, New York
- Castle Clinton National Monument in Manhattan, New York
- Boulder House in Boulder, Colorado 
- Clemson University Lee Hall Expansion in Clemson, South Carolina
- Fishers Island House in Long Island, New York 
- Sagaponac House, New York
- Seoul Language School in Seoul, South Korea
- Steelcase, Inc. Headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan
- U.S. Courthouse for the District of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah
- Spencertown House in Spencertown, New York
- Glenstone in Potomac, Maryland
- Corning Museum of Glass addition in Corning, New York, completed in 2015
- LED Light Fixture, New York City‘s City Lights Design Competition
- 222 Second Street in San Francisco (Phifer's first commercial tower, housing offices of LinkedIn), opened in 2016
- Urban Green Council. "The Work of Thomas Phifer & Partners and the North Carolina Museum of Art". Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- "The Work of Thomas Phifer and Partners". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
- "Professional Biographies of Project Principals, North Carolina Museum of Art Expansion Initiative" (PDF). Retrieved 20 June 2013.
- Alan G., Brake (26 October 2011). "CITYLIGHTS FINALLY BEGIN TO SEE DAYLIGHT". ArchPaper. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
- "Biography: Thomas Phifer". Corning Museum of Glass.
- "Architecture Department Lecture – THOMAS PHIFER". Iowa State University. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
- King, John (2016-03-31). "SF skyline's new LinkedIn addition is built by, for New Yorkers". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
- "Brochstein Pavilion and Central Quad". American Institute of Architects. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "North Carolina Museum of Art-2011 AIA Institute Honor Award for Architecture Recipient". American Institute of Architects. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "2011 FAIA Announcement". American Institute of Architects. 13 May 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "National Academicians". The National Academy. Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
- "Fellowship, Awards". American Institute of Architects. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
- "AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND LETTERS ANNOUNCES 2013 ARCHITECTURE AWARD WINNERS". American Academy of Arts and Letters. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
- "Salt Point House / Thomas Phifer and Partners". ArchDaily. 14 Oct 2010. Retrieved 20 Aug 2013.
- "Rebuilding Castle Clinton". The Battery Conservancy. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
- Vernon, Mays (5 April 2007). "Everything is Illuminated". Architect Magazine. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
- "Fishers Island House / Thomas Phifer and Partners". ArchDaily. Retrieved 2013-07-17.
- "Spencertown House by Thomas Phifer and Partners". Daily Icon. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
- Mendelsohn, Meredith (2018-09-27). "Tour the New $200 Million Expansion of One of America's Most Important—and Unknown—Museums". Architectural Digest. Archived from the original on 2018-09-27. Retrieved 2018-10-01.