On Campus

Architecture student remembered for love for family and dedication to schoolwork

Courtesy of Ken Heinrich

David Heinrich, a fourth-year architecture student at SU, died on March 9.

David Heinrich wasn’t one to avoid people in the hallway.

Even if he hadn’t seen a person in a while, Heinrich would always be the one to say “Hi,” said Christina Bahou, a fourth-year Syracuse University School of Architecture student.

“After everything, he respects the connections he’s made,” Bahou said.

Heinrich, 24, died on March 9. A native of Arlington Heights, Illinois, he was a fourth-year architecture student at SU.

Bahou and Nathaniel Banks, another fourth-year student studying architecture, both met Heinrich when they were all placed in the same freshman-year studio. Bahou was Heinrich’s partner for the course’s first project, and Banks sat at the desk next to him.

While Heinrich was shy and quiet at first, once a person got to know him he would open up and become especially talkative, Banks said. They bonded over their love of the HBO show “Game of Thrones” and comic book movie adaptions, and often saw films together.

In class, David had a smart sense of humor, Bahou said, and would often break awkward situations with jokes.

“He would literally say something very random, just as a joke, and then everyone would literally take two minutes to process what he just said and then break out laughing,” Bahou said.

William Rittmeyer, a childhood friend of Heinrich’s, met him in sixth grade, when Heinrich transferred to St. Peter Lutheran School in Arlington Heights. The two kept in touch throughout the years, from playing capture the flag and Monopoly in middle school to going to bars and movies on college breaks. He remembered Heinrich’s passion for aquariums — like when he and another friend tried to raise a hundred guppies in high school — and his wall-length aquarium in his room at his parents’ house.

Rittmeyer said Heinrich had a set of experiences few others have because of health complications. Yet Heinrich was caring to the point that when the two talked, they talked more about Rittmeyer than Heinrich.

“He is just bubbly, friendly Dave,” Rittmeyer said. “And you could go to him with any problems, because he’s already dealt with all of it.”

Bahou and Banks traveled with Heinrich when they studied abroad, first in London for the spring 2016 semester, then in Florence, Italy for fall 2016. Banks said he remembered Heinrich spending a lot of time looking for souvenirs for his family while in Europe and later Morocco. He had three younger brothers and wanted to get a gift for each one.

When he visited Banks’ family in London, Heinrich quickly opted to play board games with Banks’ younger brother, who usually had no one to play with, Banks said. Normally when his friends came over they just wanted to hang out, Banks said, but Heinrich formed a connection and left a strong impact on his younger brother.

“David’s very, very family-oriented,” Banks said. “He saw my younger brother, and I think he told me he reminded him of his younger brother.”

Heinrich was respected by both his colleagues and professors, said Elizabeth Kamell, who was Heinrich’s fourth-year architectural design professor. He was a strategic thinker, ambitious and creative, she said, and wouldn’t let his health complications get in the way of his schoolwork.

“He did things that might have really crippled other students,” Kamell said. “They would have given up. He just kept on going.”

He had a “quiet determination,” said Francisco Sanin, an architecture professor who taught Heinrich while he was abroad in London. He was motivated to pursue great work, he said, but was always kind and unpretentious.

Randall Korman, an architecture professor who met Heinrich in fall 2015, said in an email he remembered visiting Heinrich after he had to take a week off from school. While Korman told him to focus on getting better, Heinrich insisted he would be back the next week and make up lost time, which he did.

“I remember thinking how great it would be to have a whole class of students who all had David’s determination and courage,” Korman said.

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