Remembering Richard Rogers, Hon. FAIA: A legacy of innovation
Richard Rogers, an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and AIA Gold Medalist has died at the age of 88, leaving behind a legacy of innovation, generosity, and collegiality. Architect of the Lloyd’s of London headquarters building, London’s Millennium Dome, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, the Welsh Parliament Building in Cardiff, Barajas Airport Terminal 4 in Madrid, and Maggie’s Centre in the London borough of Hammersmith, among other award-winning projects, Rogers produced work of nearly every sort, from private homes to public cultural centers, from festival buildings to mixed-use highrises.
From his modest beginnings as a member of Team Four, founded in 1963 with Norman Foster, Hon. FAIA, Su Brumwell, as well as Wendy Cheesman (and her sister Georgie Wolton) to his final design for a gallery at Château La Coste in Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade in Southern France, completed in 2021, Rogers’ career as a designer and firm principal spanned seven decades.
"...driven by his singular ideas and intellectually rigorous approach to site, context, and form in section and in the overall massing that signaled to onlookers that they had encountered in their walk an unapologetic and brilliant work of architecture..."
He was best known as co-designer of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, completed in 1977—an exuberant machine that celebrates the systems of architecture with its exposed pipes, ducts, and trusses that drew both the ire and adulation of critics. In time, however, the Pompidou symbolized much more than the shock of an “inside-out” architecture for 1970s Paris, and pointed the way forward for what became known as the Grands Travaux of François Mitterrand in the 1980s, which included Dominique Perrault’s Bibliothèque Nationale and I.M. Pei’s Louvre Pyramid entry: bold expressions of a technologically advanced public architecture that were, indeed, grand in scale, but centered on the human experience of space. Without Rogers’ contribution to the Beaubourg neighborhood of Paris north of Les Halles, effectively revitalizing the city’s beating heart, Mitterand’s grand plans might not have been as inspired.
Lord Rogers of Riverside also embodied the struggle of overcoming wartime displacement, what the RIBA Journal called “the brutal regime of a minor English boarding school,” its associated mental anguish, and lifelong dyslexia. A 1958 progress report from what would become his alma mater, the Architectural Association in London, stated in no uncertain terms, “He has a genuine interest in and a feeling for architecture, but sorely lacks the intellectual equipment to translate these feelings into sound building. His designs will continue to suffer while his drawing is so bad, his method of work is chaotic and his critical judgement so inarticulate.” Reliant on others to help him, he embodied the best qualities of architectural collaboration and partnership. The Pompidou team, although frequently shortened to Rogers and Renzo Piano, Hon. FAIA, also included the architects Su Rogers and Gianfranco Franchini, and the structural engineers Peter Rice and Edmund Happold. His firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP), founded in 1977, included legions of talented architects who helped Rogers realize his designs, but always driven by his singular ideas and intellectually rigorous approach to site, context, and form in section and in the overall massing that signaled to onlookers that they had encountered in their walk an unapologetic and brilliant work of architecture, and upon entering, would experience something uniquely forward thinking.
Rogers, a 2007 Pritzker Prize winner and 1985 RIBA Gold Medalist, was recognized with knighthood, life peerage, and the Order of the Companions of Honor in 2008 for outstanding achievement, limited to 65 individuals who have made major and lifelong contributions to the arts, science, medicine, or government.