Pioneering architect Richard Rogers passes away aged 88

The Pritzker Prize-winning architect leaves behind a legacy of radical, high tech designs and four decades with his practice, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.

21 December 2021

Richard Rogers, the trailblazing architect behind the Millennium Dome, Pompidou Centre and Lloyd’s Building, passed away on Saturday evening (18 December) aged 88.

As news of his passing reverberates throughout the creative world, tributes have come flooding in from the architecture and design community and beyond, speaking to his lasting influence. “He was a tireless supporter of the compact, sustainable, pedestrian-friendly city and a passionate opponent of mindless suburban sprawl,” friend, collaborator, and “kindred spirit”, Norman Foster wrote in a tribute. “These convictions were embedded in our private language when we came together in our 20s and there was the same fire in his belly (an expression he would love) up to the very end.”

Ivan Harbour, a senior partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, honoured the late architect, reflecting: “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 was not an archetypical architect, but he was a unique and wonderful human being.”

Born in Florence in 1933, Rogers moved to England in 1939 aged six. He attended the Architectural Association School of Architecture in the UK before studying at Yale, where he met long-time collaborator Norman Foster. In 1969, Rogers created one of his first and still-most iconic buildings, Wimbledon house, designed alongside his then wife fellow architect Su Rogers. The modernist building was designed as a home for Rogers' parents, made from bright yellow painted steel ribs, with full-height glazing.

But it was in 1971 that his architectural legacy was truly cemented when Rogers and Renzo Piano won the competition for the Pompidou Centre, both of whom were young and relatively unknown at the time. In 1977, upon completion of the building, the architects established the Richard Rogers Partnership – renamed Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners in 2007. Throughout the following decades, Rogers has helped shape the skyline of many cities across the globe through designs including the Senedd building, Heathrow Terminal 5 and London skyscraper, “the Cheesegrater”.

Contributing to the online tributes for Rogers, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wrote on Twitter: “Terribly saddened to learn of the death of Richard Rogers. He was one of the world’s most influential architects and the brilliant mind behind some of London’s most iconic buildings.”

On Linkedin, Robert Fiehn, a former colleague at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, wrote: “It’s difficult to explain what it was like to work for Richard Rogers. I’m pretty sure he’s the only architect who regularly took part in the inter-practice softball league. He put people at the heart of studio life and it resulted in some groundbreaking architecture.”

In an interview for BBC World Service, Centre Pompidou-collaborator Renzo Piano said: “I only exist as the sum of everything I have seen, everything I have read, every meeting and friends. Richard, in that sense, is the most important piece.”

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Portrait of Richard Rogers (Copyright © Andrew Zuckerman, 2008)

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Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.

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