“A unique and wonderful human being” – tributes to Richard Rogers
Colleagues, friends and clients pay tribute to Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Rogers, who has died aged 88.
Peter Rice, Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers with Ruth Rogers, Centre Pompidou. Photograph by Tony Evans.
In the days since the death of British-Italian architect Richard Rogers on 18 December there has been an outpouring of tributes to his pioneering architecture, as well as his approach to life.
Norman Foster was among the first to pay tribute to Rogers, who he described as his “oldest and closest friend”.
He reflected on their 60 years of friendship: “Richard was gregarious, outgoing, generous and possessed an infectious zest for life. His buildings are a social mirror of that personality – open, welcoming and, like his wardrobe, elegantly colourful,” wrote Foster in a statement on the passing of his friend. “Richard Rogers was a great pioneering architect of the modern age, socially committed and an influential protagonist for the best of city life — such a legacy. I will miss you dearly.”
Long-standing friend and Centre Pompidou co-architect Renzo Piano also paid his respects to Rogers, with his practice Renzo Piano Building Workshop writing on Twitter that they would “remember him for his deep and long-time friendship” and “his iconic buildings all over the world”.
Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Carl Abbott at Yale University. Photograph by Su Rogers.
Looking back on four decades in practice together, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners senior partner Ivan Harbour said: “Through Richard, as a young graduate, I learnt that architecture was about much more than the design of buildings, its social and political impacts were equally important. He gave me the opportunity when I was very young to explore and originate unencumbered in the highly creative environment that he presided over. I am indebted to him for that trust he placed in me.”
“Over the subsequent 30+ years we achieved more than I ever imagined possible, practising together, learning from each other, always looking to the future, always looking to make things better,” wrote Harbour. “His absence is very close, but his presence remains with me. I will never forget his wry smile, his infectious laugh, his paternal nature, and his sharp intellect. He was not an archetypical architect, but he was a unique and wonderful human being.”
Graham Stirk, Richard Rogers and Ivan Harbour. Photograph by Dan Stevens.
Former colleagues Julia Barfield and Peter Barber, who worked for Rogers in the days of the Richard Rogers Partnership, took to Twitter to pay homage.
Peter Barber described Rogers as the “most fantastic bloke”, adding: “He really was so charming and charismatic. He was very very kind to me.”
Julia Barfield Tweeted: “Such a sad day. Richard’s generosity of spirit and breadth of vision are my enduring memory – it made working in RRP in heady days of Inmos & Lloyds so exciting & fun.”
Architecture writer and broadcaster Tom Dyckhoff also shared his memories of Rogers on Twitter: “Richard Rogers!! He seemed immortal. What a life! What buildings! What an impact! To me he was always less an architect, more a catalyst: for people, ideas, ‘getting stuff done’. He once told me he was proudest of two things: his company, and his family.”
Curator and writer Vicky Richardson wrote that Rogers’ death was “a huge loss but also a chance to celebrate a heroic life.” She added: “Richard Rogers was a true humanist who transformed architecture, cities and public life.”
Serpentine mourns the loss of our friend and colleague #RichardRogers (1933-2021).
From glass homes with movable walls to stunning airports, Richard Rogers, who has died aged 88, turned architecture inside-out.
The American Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger praised Richard Rogers for leaving a legacy of fun and colour and for “trying to show that modern buildings could create a civilised city, that they did not have to be a vast landscape of horrible brutal concrete” in an interview for BBC World News.
Heartbreaking news: another huge loss for architecture in 2021. A gracious man and a glorious talent. RIP, Richard Rogers https://t.co/x4Td4o3ocB
“I’m pretty sure he’s the only starchitect who regularly took part in the inter-practice softball league. He took all new employees out for lunch at the River Cafe. The entire practice was invited for a birthday party at his house every year,” he wrote.
“He was incredibly proud of the staff benefits, and was adamant that we’d make the best employer lists, not just within the profession but across all UK companies,” he wrote. “This is not normal for large practices and well-known figures. He put people at the heart of studio life and it resulted in some groundbreaking architecture. I hope we can all learn from that.”
Richard Rogers. A dyslexic kid who came late to literacy, was never much good at drawing and always struggled to express himself verbally. What a career in architecture and politics, what a life, what great parties. As Renzo Piano used to hail him: “Ciaio, vecchio!”
The architecture writer, curator and director of the Farrell Centre, Owen Hopkins, who worked on Richard Rogers’ Royal Academy exhibition Inside Out, said it was “very hard to underestimate his significance for late 20th- and early 21st-century architecture and urbanism”.
The designer Adam Nathaniel Furman paid tribute to Rogers on Twitter, adding that he was an inspiration to those with dyslexia. “RIP Richard Rogers, for a brief moment in the late 90s/ early 2000s you made it feel like architecture and urbanism considered at a large, even national scale, could really be meaningful again,” he wrote, “and you inspired those of us who navigate the world with dyslexia to see that it in itself wasn’t a barrier in design.”