Gerald M. Cope, 84, an architect

Gerald M. Cope
Gerald M. Cope
Posted: October 12, 2012

Gerald M. Cope, 84, of Chestnut Hill, founding partner of a Center City architectural firm that shaped numerous landmark projects in Philadelphia and beyond, died Tuesday, Oct. 9, of pancreatic cancer at home.

Cope Linder Architects worked on the Aramark Tower, Gallery II (the Gallery mall expansion in the 1980s), the Reading Terminal Headhouse, the Great Plaza at Penn's Landing, and SugarHouse Casino. Outside the city, the firm helped design the original Sesame Place in Bucks County and the Borgata casino and Water Club hotel in Atlantic City.

Mr. Cope was an English immigrant who retained his native accent but embraced America and Philadelphia with passion, his son Ian said.

He was provided an "incredible opportunity here that he said he could never have gotten in England," said his son, now Cope Linder's managing partner.

Mr. Cope was born in London to parents who were proprietors of a pub. During World War II, city children were moved to the countryside, so Mr. Cope was the beneficiary of an education at a boarding school he could not have received in London.

He was drafted into the British Army, but the war had ended and he served in London managing a psychology ward and teaching math to veterans.

With a full scholarship, he earned an undergraduate degree in architecture at Northern Polytechnic Institute.

He came to the United States after being awarded a fellowship to the University of Pennsylvania's master of landscape architecture program.

"He showed up with 35 cents in his pocket that some GI gave him 10 years earlier," his son said.

He studied under such lions of architecture as Louis I. Kahn and Edmund Bacon, and was involved in the revitalization of Society Hill.

He met Carol, his wife of 41 years, through a mutual friend, and they wed in Philadelphia.

In 1966, Mr. Cope cofounded Cope Linder Walmsley with Robert E. Linder, a structural engineer, and Anthony Walmsley, a landscape architect.

Mr. Cope was a mentor to many employees and associates who went on to establish their own businesses, his son said.

"He loved the people he worked with," said his son, who described Mr. Cope as a "very modest and gentle person."

Mr. Cope was deeply involved with the Carson Valley School (now Carson Valley Children's Aid) in Montgomery County. The nonprofit operates a school and outreach for at-risk children.

In addition to his wife and son Ian, Mr. Cope is survived by a daughter, Lily; another son, David; a grandson; and a brother.

Mr. Cope donated his body to science, his son said.

The family plans a memorial service to be held in the coming months.

Donations in Mr. Cope's name may be made to Carson Valley Children's Aid, 1419 Bethlehem Pike, Flourtown, Pa. 19031, or via

Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-5983,, or follow @RobertMoran215 on Twitter.

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