Richard Rogers was a British architect born in Italy in July 1933. Working as a senior partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour+ Partners (previously, Richard Rogers Partnership) until June 2020, he believed in celebrating the components of a structure. He was popular for his notable works in modernist, functionalist, and hi-tech architecture. He believed in designing buildings as spaces where people want to be. Unlike many who see space as a forced alternative, his perspective was led by multiple ideas to make the space more enjoyable to be in.
Early Years in Architecture
He gained his diploma from the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, in 1959. Subsequently, he graduated with a master’s degree from Yale School of Architecture in 1962. After graduation, he joined the popular architecture firm ‘Skidmore, Owings and Merrill’ in New York. Later, returning to England, he set up architectural practice ‘Team 4’ along with Norman Foster, Su Brumwell, and Wendy Cheesman in the early 1960s. This firm gained popularity for its technology-inspired designs. He worked with a variety of architects, until his partnership with Renzo Piano. This partnership proved to be a giant leap in his career as they shared their interests in developing a flexible and anti-monumental architecture.
In 1971, Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano together, won a design competition for the Pompidou Center, Paris which brought them great appreciation. The hi-tech design for the center to make it look like an urban machine immediately garnered attention from the architectural community internationally. Colorful ducts and elevators made the façade of the museum create a vivid aesthetic impression. While it was in a debate about not fitting in the context of the historic neighborhood, this museum revitalized and became a renowned landmark globally.
Connection with Urbanism
The latter portion of his career focused on wider issues surrounding architecture, urbanism, and sustainability. His illustrations were exhibited at the Royal Academy entitled ‘London as it could be’. He was the first architect to deliver a lecture series at the BBC’s annual Reith Lectures.
“Human life has always depended on three variables: population, resources, and environment. But today, we’re perhaps the first generation to face the simultaneous impact of expanding populations, depletion of resources, and erosion of the environment. All this is common knowledge, and yet, incredibly, industrial expansion carries on regardless,” stated Richard Rogers in one of his Reith lectures. This lecture focuses on the fact that cities were responsible for much of the environmental damage, pollution, erosion, deforestation. It was based on the concept of sustainable cities which were later adapted into the book ‘Cities for a Small Planet’.
He was solicited to set up an ‘Urban Task Force’ to identify the causes of urban decline and establish a vision of the safety, vitality and beauty of the cities. He also served as the chairperson of the Greater London Authority panel for urbanism and architecture and also ministered as the chairperson of the board of trustees of The Architecture Foundation. He advocated the necessity to have high densities in cities to allow vibrancy and interaction. A focus on the neighborhood to reduce the use of automobiles and overlapping activities to increase communal contact. He envisioned the cities to be no longer isolated or zoned out in one-activity ghettos; rather resembling more richly layered cities of the past. He was appointed as the chief advisor on architecture and urbanism to the then Mayor of London from 2001 to 2008.
A Gist of his Works
Richard Rodgers worked on numerous projects throughout his career. His architecture was disparate by big-statement, prefabricated materials, skyline-defining buildings characterized by light structures, and the use of cutting-edge technology.
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, Potsdamer Platz offices in Berlin, Airport Terminal in Madrid, and the third tower of World Trade Center in New York were designed by him. The third tower of World Trade Center has an 18m tall lobby that has expansive glass walls that appear to float down for the upper stories. A gridded façade is formed throughout the glass walls.
He also designed London’s Millennium Dome, a vast white marquee with yellow crane supports, and the O2 Center, which is a famous venue for events from pop concerts to tennis competitions. The canopy of this dome is fabricated from PTFE coated glass fiber fabric as it is a durable and weather-resistant plastic.
The Cheesegrater is a 225m tall office building in central London which is known for its noteworthy form, a sleek wedge shape. The structure reinforces the pattern defined by the envelope and takes the form of a perimeter braced tube.
Richard Rogers was awarded the RIBA Gold medal, the RIBA Stirling Prize, Thomas Jefferson medal, and the Minerva medal. He also won the AIA Gold medal and is one of the pioneers of the high-tech architecture movement. Along with the series of awards for his conspicuous works in design, he also won the Pritzker architecture prize in 2007.
- www.aljazeera.com. (n.d.). Pompidou architect Richard Rogers dies. [online] Available at: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/12/19/richard-rogers-famed-british-architect-dies-aged-88[Accessed 8 Jan. 2022].
- Wikipedia Contributors (2019). Richard Rogers. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Rogers.
- RSHP, R.S.H. + P. | (n.d.). RSHP – – Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners | RSHP. [online] www.rsh-p.com. Available at: https://www.rsh-p.com/ [Accessed 8 Jan. 2022].
- Picxy.com. 2022. Image of Leadenhall Building Affectionately Known As The Cheesegrater In London-SC878133-Picxy. [online] Available at: <https://www.picxy.com/photo/2002755> [Accessed 2 February 2022].