Kenneth S. Halpern, 51, Planner and Architect

Kenneth S. Halpern, a force for planning in New York City who helped design the South Street Seaport, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 51.

Mr. Halpern, an architect who was the first director of the Manhattan office of the Department of City Planning, died of complications from AIDS, said Sylvia Lester, a friend.

"He loved Manhattan," Ms. Lester said. "He was an avid New Yorker and loved giving walking tours through the city's neighborhoods."

In 1980, Mayor Edward I. Koch named Mr. Halpern to the Manhattan planning job, soon after the merging of several city planning offices, including the Mayor's Office of Midtown Planning and Development, where Mr. Halpern had been director for two years.

During the early 1980's, Mr. Halpern was a prime advocate behind a failed movement to convert Times Square into a mall. Besides the South Street Seaport, he created design plans for the Lower East Side, Central Harlem, Spanish Harlem and Manhattan Valley, as well as zoning guidelines for midtown Manhattan, the Upper West Side and the East Side.

As a practicing architect in New York, Mr. Halpern designed homes as well as office buildings. The design of his summer home in Pantelleria, Italy, was acclaimed. His book, "Downtown U.S.A.: Urban Design in Nine American Cities," published in 1978, is an industry staple.

Mr. Halpern was born in Chicago. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Architecture degree in urban design from Harvard University's Graduate School of Design in 1970. In 1976, he was a Fulbright professor of urban design at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. He later taught at Columbia University in Manhattan and the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

Mr. Halpern is survived by his father, Fred, and a sister, Sandra Stein, both of Hollywood, Fla.

(New York Times, January 15, 1996, Monday, Late Edition - Final)

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