Peter Murray, CBE. Architect and founder London Festival of Architecture.
Chairman: Hugh Pearman
Architecture is one of Britain's unsung export achievements, with a large amount of design work carried out in the UK for building overseas: many firms also run foreign offices. The profession enjoys higher status internationally than it does back home, but don’t be fooled by the star status of a few: this is not a lucrative profession for most in it. Training is long and expensive, hours long, and fees often low. The satisfactions, however, can be great. Our list is a cross-section of the leading people involved in getting buildings built, both as architects and as patrons and champions of architecture.
Hugh Pearman is an architecture and design critic. He is editor of the RIBA Journal and architecture critic for the Sunday Times. He has also contributed to The Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Royal Academy Magazine, and many other media. Hugh was one of the co-founders of the Stirling Prize for Architecture in 1996, and in 2001 he was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Dame Zaha Hadid, DBE. Architect.
Iraqi-born architect Dame Zaha Hadid has been London-based since the 1970s. She has emerged as one of the most original architects of her generation, designing audacious buildings that have pushed technology forward. From 2005, Hadid designed the London Aquatics Centre, which was one of the main venues for the London 2012 Olympics. Although it took time for her to gain acceptance, she is now in high demand on an international scale. In 2004, Hadid became the first woman ever to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize (considered to be the Nobel Prize of architecture) and received the Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011. Dame Zaha is arguably one of the world’s best known female architects.
The Lord Rogers of Riverside, CH. Architect and chairman Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners.
Responsible for some of the most radical designs in recent times, Richard Rogers is THE great mover and shaker in British architecture. From his early creation of the Pompidou Centre in Paris with Renzo Piano through the now-listed Lloyd’s of London building to Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and the Millennium Dome, Lord Rogers is known for his modernist designs. Mayors of London Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson have both taken heed of Rogers’ advice in his role as chief advisor on architecture and urbanism. Rogers turned 80 in 2012 with a retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy. Rogers is hugely respected in the industry.
Alison Nimmo, CBE. Chief executive of the Crown Estate.
Regeneration specialist Alison Nimmo is the chief executive of the Crown Estate. As the Crown Estate owns £8 billion worth of property across the country, with much of it being redeveloped at any one time, Nimmo holds a very powerful position in the world of architecture. She is the first woman ever to run the Crown Estate and worked as the former director of design at the Olympic Delivery Authority. Nimmo now runs a big programme persuading talented architects to rebuild large parts of London’s West End and in 2004, Nimmo was awarded a CBE for her services to urban regeneration.
David Adjaye, OBE. Architect and principal Adjaye/Associates.
David Adjaye is a key player on the international architecture scene. With the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo and the Denver Contemporary Art Museum under his belt, Tanzanian-born Adjaye is one of our brightest architectural talents. In the same year that he graduated, he won the RIBA Bronze Medal. He has dined with the Obamas, not least because he has designed the National Museum for African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington DC, which is currently in the process of being built. With his artistic sensibility and skill, Adjaye is undoubtedly one of the leading architects of his generation.
Victoria Thornton, OBE. Founding director Open-City.
Victoria Thornton is the founding director of Open-City, a not-for-profit education organisation that supports and celebrates the value of good architectural design. It is hailed as one of the leading architectural educators as it attempts to incite debate and dialogue around how architecture affects daily living. Part of this is Open House London, an annual architectural festival that opens hundreds of normally private buildings to the public for free, with the aim of inspiring people to look more closely at the great buildings that make up our capital. Thornton is hailed as one of the UK's leading architectural educators and in 2012 was awarded an OBE for her services to architecture.
The Rt Hon the Lord Foster of Thames Bank, OM. Architect and founder and chairman Foster + Partners.
Norman Foster was raised in a working class family in Manchester, and was interested in design from a young age. He was inspired to pursue a career in architecture after his sketches of Manchunian buildings were noticed by a clerk at Manchester Town Hall. Foster is now the innovative architect behind London’s Gherkin and Berlin’s Reichstag. His large Battersea-based firm, Foster + Partners, which he founded in 1967, is a powerhouse designing typically progressive modern buildings worldwide and is behind the audacious proposal for a new “Thames Hub” airport for London. Since its creation, the practice has received more than 470 awards and citations for excellence and has won more than 86 national and international competitions.
Alison Brooks. Architect.
Canadian-born Brooks is one of the generation of architects that broke through in the early 21st century. She is especially noted for her approach towards affordable housing. In 1996, Brooks founded Alison Brooks Architects Ltd. This is the first British architectural practice to have won the UK’s three most prestigious awards for architecture: the Stirling Prize, the Manser Medal and the Stephen Lawrence Prize. Brooks won both the Housing Architect of the Year and Architect of the Year Gold Award in 2012, and in March 2013 she won the AJ Woman Architect of the Year Award. Brooks is a powerful force in British architecture with her drive to produce handsome housing for ordinary people.
Charles Jencks. Landscape architect, designer and critic.
Charles Jencks, the noted critic and landscape architect, is the driving force behind the remarkable network of Maggie’s cancer-support centres. An idea conceived by his late wife Maggie Keswick Jencks, who was herself a cancer victim, each centre is designed in a highly individual style by a leading architect and is aimed at effecting self-help and providing support to those who need it. There are currently twelve centres established, with many more planned. Jencks is also a renowned authority on modern architecture, and has published a number of books and frequently lectures on the subject.
Amanda Levete. Architect and principal Amanda Levete Architects.
Amanda Levete was expelled from school at the age of 16, and was so embarrassed that her friends were all going to university without her that she was spurred on to take a foundation year at art school. She now runs a very successful architecture practice. In 1999 she won the Stirling Prize with her late partner Jan Kaplicky for the NatWest Media Centre at Lord’s Cricket Ground, and today projects include a 1.5 million square foot luxury shopping mall in Bangkok and the new Boilerhouse extension to the Victoria and Albert Museum. With her rich, expressive style, Levete’s work is extremely distinctive and she has achieved international acclaim for her explorative talent.
Niall McLaughlin. Architect.
Niall McLaughlin was first drawn to architecture by the curved windows of the Berkeley Library in Trinity College Dublin. When he first emerged as an architect in the late 1990s he was tipped for great things, winning Young British Architect of the Year in 1998 and recognised as one of the BBC’s Rising Stars in 2001. The Irish-born architect has progressed to exceed all expectations. Garlanded with awards for everything ranging from houses to chapels, McLaughlin is also a very influential teacher in the field at Britain’s most highly-regarded architecture school, the Bartlett. His design of the Bishop Edward King Chapel was shortlisted for the esteemed RIBA Stirling Prize in 2013.
Sarah Wigglesworth. Architect and director Sarah Wigglesworth Architects.
Eco-architecture of a highly imaginative and at times even playful nature is Sarah Wigglesworth’s calling-card. Academic as well as practising architect – and a Royal Designer for Industry – she practises what she preaches: her own house uses everything from straw bales to sandbags and concrete rubble. Wigglesworth cites her mother as her inspiration, she “reinforced the message that a woman needs to be able to support herself financially.” As the director of Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, a practice using low energy principles to initiate new attitudes to architecture, the award-winning architect is credited with driving green architecture into mainstream acceptance. In 2012, Wigglesworth was appointed as a Royal Designer for Industry, the first woman to be awarded this prestigious accolade for the field of architecture.
Sir David Chipperfield, CBE. Architect and principal David Chipperfield Architects.
Sir David Chipperfield has built fine art galleries in the UK such as the new Turner Contemporary in Margate and The Hepworth in Wakefield. It is his painstaking reconstruction and re-ordering of Berlin’s Museum Island that really stands out and in 2009, Chipperfield was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. This is the highest tribute that can be bestowed upon individuals for service to the nation. In 2011, Chipperfield received the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture, which is given in recognition of a lifetime’s work and is approved personally by Her Majesty the Queen.
Deborah Saunt. Architect and founder DSDHA.
Deborah Saunt brings a down-to-earth approach to building matters, as she is intent on using architecture to improve the everyday experience. She is one of architecture’s communicators, frequently appearing on television – Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs is an old collaborator of hers – and also writing and broadcasting on the matter. In 1998, Saunt founded her award-winning company DSDHA and some incredibly distinctive buildings are included in Saunt’s portfolio, including the highest block of flats in the London 2012 Olympic Village which, with its unrivalled and iconic views, was used to house the VIPs.
Alain de Botton. Philiosopher and creative director Living Architecture.
Swiss-born populist philosopher de Botton has another string to his bow: architecture. His Living Architecture company builds ultra-modern, sometimes eccentric, upmarket holiday homes in Britain, all by top-notch architects. They are glamorous and popular and aimed at allowing everyone to experience the work of world class architects first hand. As the first programme of its kind, it has made architecture more accessible to the masses. In October 2009, in recognition of his services to architecture, de Botton was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Vicky Richardson. Director of architecture, design and fashion British Council.
As the director of architecture, design and fashion at the British Council, Vicky Richardson has the immense task of taking the best home-grown architecture around the world: not least to the vastly prestigious Venice Biennale. She is tasked with organising a hectic schedule of international design events, such as exchanges, talks and touring exhibitions. A former journalist, Richardson was the deputy editor of RIBA journal and edited the leading architecture and design magazine, Blueprint, before assuming the role with the British Council. Richardson is crucial in developing Britain’s international reach across the field of architecture.
Peter Murray, CBE. Architect and founder London Festival of Architecture.
Having trained as an architect, Peter Murray’s career has focused on the communication of architecture rather than the construction of buildings. According to Murray, “When I left school I was undecided whether to read English or architecture at university, I chose architecture but spent most of my time publishing student magazines of one sort or another.” In 1983 he founded Wordsearch, a marketing company focusing on the design of communications to architects. He is a former editor of the weekly newspaper of architects, Building Design, and the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Journal. Murray is the founder of the ever-expanding London Festival of Architecture and the chair of New London Architecture. Murray also advises the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, as a cycling campaigner.
Eva Jiricna, CBE. Architect.
Czech-born Eva Jiricna blazed a trail for a new generation of female architects in the 1970s and 1980s. First coming to Britain in 1968, Jiricna left her home country to assume a work placement with the Greater London Council. When Soviet tanks put an end to the Prague Spring, Jiricna was unable to return. Instead, she established herself as one of the most influential female architects in the UK. In 2013, she won the Jane Drew Prize in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the status of women in architecture. Her exquisite designs grace museums, shops, even a Jubilee Line station and have stood the test of time as classics of their many eras.
Sir Terry Farrell, CBE. Architect and principal Terry Farrell & Partners.
Sir Terry Farrell is arguably the most influential architect-planner in Britain. When asked about what influenced his career, Farrell said: “I underperformed at school in Newcastle but my art master Maurice McPartlan encouraged and pushed me. I will always be grateful to him; without him I am sure I would not have got anywhere.” Over his forty years in practice, he has renovated the London skyline with his design of the MI6 and Home Office Headquarters. Farrell is the Design Champion for Europe’s largest regeneration project, The Thames Gateway. At the request of the Government, he has just completed the Farrell Review into the state of architecture itself. This is likely to shape and influence government policy for years to come.
Francine Houben. Architect.
Leading Dutch architect Francine Houben is a founding partner and the creative director of Mecanoo Architecten in The Netherlands. Houben recently completed the building of the main central library in Birmingham, which is recognised as the largest public library in Europe. For Houben, libraries are the most important of buildings and despite the threatened decline of books, the space is so important that libraries will have a continued relevance. Houben is recognised as one of the most creative European architects of the day as her untraditional approach creates a unique interpretation and construction of her architectural ideas.
Sunand Prasad. Co-founder Penoyre & Prasad.
A leading figure in the world of architecture, Sunand Prasad is the co-founder of Penoyre & Prasad architecture practice. The company, founded in 1988, has an internationally recognised and well-established profile in civic, health and education buildings. Prasad is a former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects RIBA. During his tenure he was praised for “greening the RIBA” thanks to his commitment to highlighting the architecture profession’s potential to influence combating climate change. Prasad is also a member of the UK Government’s Green Construction Board and he is dedicated on a personal level to ethical practice and sustainable growth.