Richard Rogers: Famed architect behind the Pompidou dies aged 88

British architect Richard Rogers, known for designing some of the world’s most famous buildings including the Pompidou Centre in Paris, has died aged 88, according to media reports.

Rogers, who changed the London skyline with distinctive creations such as the Millennium Dome and the “Cheesegrater”, “passed away quietly” on Saturday night, Freud communications agency’s Matthew Freud told the Press Association.

His son Roo Rogers also confirmed his death to the New York Times, but did not give the cause.

The Italian-born architect won a series of awards for his designs, including the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize, and is one of the pioneers of the “high-tech” architecture movement, distinguished by structures incorporating industrial materials such as glass and steel.

He is the co-creator of France’s Pompidou Centre – opened in 1977 and famed for its multi-coloured, pipe-covered facade – which he designed with Italian architect Renzo Piano.

Rogers’ other well-known designs include Strasbourg’s European Court of Human Rights and the 3 World Trade Center in New York, as well as international airport terminals in Madrid and London’s Heathrow.

Slow start

Born in Florence in 1933, his father was a doctor, his mother a former pupil of the famed Irish writer James Joyce. The family fled the dictatorship of Mussolini, settling in England in 1938.

London was miserable. The family had been comfortably middle class in Italy but the relocation had reduced them to a single-room flat that ran on a coin meter for heating.

“Life had switched from colour to black-and-white,” Rogers recalled in his 2017 autobiography “A Place for all People”.

School was no easier, either. Rogers was dyslexic at a time when there was no diagnosis for the condition that “was called stupidity”, he told the Guardian newspaper in 2017.

He was miserable, he said in his autobiography, “crying myself to sleep every night – years of unhappiness”.

‘Notre Dame of the Pipes’

He left school in 1951 with no qualifications and, after his army national service, managed to gain entry into London’s Architectural Association School, known for its modernism.

He completed his architecture studies at Yale in the United States in 1962, where he met fellow Briton Norman Foster.

They returned to England in 1964 and with their wives founded the architecture firm, Team 4, which became known for its technology-inspired designs.

In 1968, Rogers met the Italian architect Renzo Piano with whom he shared an interest in developing a flexible and anti-monumental architecture.

“He is my closest friend, practically my brother,” Rogers said of Piano – the designer of London’s Shard tower – in an interview with The Guardian. “We were the bad boys.”

The same year they met, they won a competition to design a new art gallery in Paris, which became the Pompidou Centre.

Today a landmark of the city, its facade is covered by thick pipes painted in bold colours, with stairways and escalators on the outside of the building.

It quickly attracted a range of nicknames, not all of them complimentary: “The Gasworks”, “The Pompidolium”, “Notre-Dame of the Pipes”.

All about the space

Rogers completed some 400 commissions in a career punctuated by big-statement, skyline-defining buildings characterised by light structures, prefabricated materials and the use of cutting-edge technology.

He designed the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, Potsdamer Platz offices in Berlin, an airport terminal in Madrid and 3 World Trade Center in New York.

He was also behind London’s vast white marquee with yellow crane supports known as the Millennium Dome and then the 02 Centre, a popular venue for events from pop concerts to tennis competitions.

The “Cheesegrater”, as the 225-metre-tall (738 feet) Leadenhall office building in central London is known because of its sleek wedge shape, opened in 2014.

Although buildings were Rogers’ world, he insisted it was the space around them that was the key in defining those that worked.

“The two can’t be judged apart,” he told The Guardian in 2017. “The Twin Towers in New York, for instance. They weren’t great buildings, but the space between them was.”

The recipient of the Freedom of the City of London at Guildhall Art Gallery in 2014 in recognition of his contribution to architecture and urbanism, he is survived by his wife Lady Ruth, sons Ab, Ben, Roo and Zad, his brother Peter and 13 grandchildren.

Related Articles

Back to top button