Nationally known local architect Graham Downes has died at age 55, as a result of injuries sustained in an altercation at his Bankers Hill home, according to a statement from his San Diego-based firm, Graham Downes Architecture Inc.

Downes recently focused on urban mixed-use projects that served as catalysts for redevelopment of San Diego’s older neighborhoods, with projects in downtown, Barrio Logan and his Bankers Hill base.

His firm was started in 1994 and worked on prominent local and regional hospitality projects such as Tower 23, Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, Hard Rock Hotel Nuevo Vallarta and Palomar Hotel. He also designed retail stores and restaurant renovations, including those for Bali Hai Restaurant and Tom Ham’s Lighthouse.

A development firm led by Downes, called Blokhaus Development, was recently at work on projects such as redeveloping three Bankers Hill properties it had acquired in 2012, including the Britt Scripps Inn and Mandarin House restaurant.

Downes arrived in San Diego in 1986 from Durban, South Africa, where he became a star rugby player after graduating from University of Natal with a degree in architecture. He continued to excel at rugby with the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club, and represented the United States at the 1987 Rugby World Cup.

According to data supplied by the firm for the 2013 San Diego Business Journal Book of Lists, Downes’ company employed 30 as of June 2012.

— SDBJ Staff Report