Richard Rogers is best known for such pioneering buildings as the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the headquarters for Lloyd’s of London, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and the Millennium Dome in London. His practice—Richard Rogers Partnership (RRP)—was founded in 1977, and has offices in London, Barcelona, Madrid and Tokyo. RRP has designed two major airport projects —Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow Airport and the New Area Terminal at Madrid Barajas Airport, as well as high-rise office projects in London, a new law court complex in Antwerp, the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff, and a hotel and conference centre in Barcelona. The practice also has a wealth of experience in urban masterplanning with major schemes in London, Lisbon, Berlin, New York and Seoul.

By any standards, Richard Rogers has had an extraordinary life, from the time of his birth in Florence, Italy on July 23, 1933 to being named The Lord Rogers of Riverside in 1996, and to the present to be chosen as the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate. His story could well be the subject of a fine biographical motion picture, and already is in book form written by Bryan Appleyard and published by Faber & Faber. While the notes here are primarily concerned with Rogers’ architectural career, some of his more personal background is included as well—albeit much abbreviated. For details of the architectural career, the most definitive work is by Kenneth Powell in three volumes published by Phaidon.

At the time of Richard Rogers’ birth, his father, William Nino Rogers, was a medical student. The latter was the grandson of an English dentist who had settled in Italy. Richard’s mother was from Trieste. Her father had studied architecture and engineering, but had given up his practice in favor of an executive position with an insurance company. A cousin of Richard’s father, Ernesto Rogers, was one of Italy’s prominent architects, and a contributing editor to Domus and Casabella, that country’s leading architectural magazines. Richard’s mother had great interest in modern design and encouraged her son’s interest in the visual arts. That interest was fulfilled when Rogers served as Chairman of the Tate Gallery and as Deputy Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain. He is also a Trustee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

With war in Europe looming, in 1938, the Rogers family moved back to England where Richard soon entered the public school system, but never did very well, the reason being that he was dyslexic, not diagnosed until many years later. By the time he finished his secondary education in 1951, his family was pointing him in the direction of a possible dentistry career, but a lack of qualifications ended that possibility. In that same year, the Festival of Britain took place and brought the first officially sanctioned modern architecture to the country. Some of the fantastic temporary buildings along the South Bank sparked an interest in Richard Rogers, but National Service was the only thing in his future for the next two years. But before that, he would make a hitchhiking trip to Venice with one of his school friends. His friend precipitated a minor riot which resulted in their arrest. Fortunately, his family connections in Italy brought about release and eventually a full pardon. But that was just one of many adventures in Italy in his student days.

By the time he finished his military service, with some of that time spent in Trieste and getting to know Ernesto and his work, he had definitely decided on attending the Architectural Association, or AA as it is more popularly known. In 1959, he won the Fifth Year Prize for a school project.

In 1960, he married Susan (Su) Brumwell, daughter of Marcus and Rene Brumwell. Her father was head of the Design Research Unit (DRU), which had been formed in 1943. DRU had been a moving force in the Festival of Britain.

In 1961, the young married couple went to the United States where Richard would pursue a master’s degree in architecture at Yale on a Fulbright Scholarship, and his wife, Su, would study urban planning.

Their first home in the U.S. was with some friends of Su’s parents, sculptor Naum Gabo and his wife. The head of the Yale school of architecture was Paul Rudolph, and one of Richard’s fellow students was Norman Foster. The late James Stirling was also one of his teachers.

It was at Yale that Rogers developed an interest in the works of Frank Lloyd Wright. In fact, Rogers has said, “Wright was my first god.” While in America, Rogers, Su, Foster and another American student made a number of trips across the continent seeing as many of Wright’s buildings as possible, and a number of other works as well, including Mies van der Rohe and Louis Kahn. When they finished at Yale, a trip to California resulted in a job at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and visits to works by Rudolph Schindler, Pierre Koenig, Craig Ellwood, Raphael Soriano and Charles and Ray Eames.

When they returned to England, Foster and Rogers with wife Su, and Wendy Cheeseman formed Team 4 as their first architectural practice. Their first significant commission was Creek Vean, a home for Su’s parents. Another significant commission in the Team 4 days was the Reliance Controls Electronics Factory at Swindon. Shortly after the completion of the latter, Team 4 broke up and Rogers and Foster each formed their own firms in 1967. Two commissions of significance happened in the period from 1967-69: Spender House and Rogers House (for Richard’s parents in Wimbledon), both of which were considered as prototypes for a more portable housing that Rogers dubbed the Zip-Up House.

By 1971, Rogers’ practice was involved in the rooftop extension of a factory building for DRU, and had taken on a new partner, Renzo Piano, and soon the practice had a new name, Piano + Rogers.

In that same year, the commission to design the Centre Pompidou in Paris was won, which would project both Rogers and Piano onto the world stage of architecture. The Centre Pompidou took six years and most of the practice to Paris for that time. This fall, there will be an exhibition of the history of Rogers’ architectural achievements at Centre Pompidou.

In 1978, the separation of Piano and Rogers was finalized. At that same time, Rogers produced his new practice which was formed based on relationships developed over the past twenty years: Richard Rogers Partnership.

The Lloyd’s of London building was its first commission and firmly established Rogers as a major architect not only in England but the rest of the world.

His many honors include the Praemium Imperiale in 2000, The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Medal in 1999, the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy & Institute of Arts and Letters in 1989, the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 1985.

In 1995, Rogers was the first architect ever invited to give the BBC Reith Lectures—a series titled, Cities for a Small Planet (see website www. bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith/reith_history.shtml).

To illustrate Rogers’ passion on the subject, the following is quoted from his Reith Lectures:

“Human life has always depended on the three variables of 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.

“Other societies have faced extinction—some, like the Easter Islanders of the Pacific, the Harappa civilization of the Indus Valley, the Teotihuacan in pre-Columbian America, due to ecological disasters of their own making. Historically, societies unable to solve their environmental crises have either migrated or become extinct. The vital difference today is that the scale of our crisis is no longer regional but global: it involves all of humanity and the entire planet.”

And further, he stated, “…cities are where life is often at its most precarious, they are also where we have the greatest tangible opportunity for improvement, intervention, and change.”

In 1998, he was appointed by the Deputy Prime Minister to chair the UK Government’s Urban Task Force. He is chief advisor to the Mayor of London on Architecture and Urbanism. He was recently appointed Chair of the Greater London Authority’s Design for London Advisory Group.

His vision is that cities of the future “will no longer be zoned as today in isolated one-activity ghettos; rather they will resemble the more richly layered cities of the past. Living, work, shopping, learning, and leisure will overlap and be housed in continuous, varied and changing structures.”

Rogers is married to the former Ruth Elias of Woodstock, New York and Providence, Rhode Island. They have two sons, Roo, 32, and Bo, 24. Rogers has three sons from his former marriage to Su: Ben, 43; Zad, 42; and Ab, 38.

Richard Rogers of the UK Becomes the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate

Richard Rogers, whose firm Richard Rogers Partnership is headquartered in London, has been chosen as the 2007 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world as architecture’s highest honor will be held on June 4 in London. At that time, a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion will be bestowed on the 73-year old architect at The Banqueting House, designed in 1619 by Inigo Jones.

In announcing the jury’s choice, Thomas J. Pritzker, president of The Hyatt Foundation, quoted from the jury citation, “Born in Florence, Italy, and trained as an architect in London, at the Architectural Association, and later, in the United States at Yale University, Rogers has an outlook as urbane and expansive as his upbringing. In his writings, through his role as advisor to policy making groups, as well as his large-scale planning work, Rogers is a champion of urban life and believes in the potential of the city to be a catalyst for social change.”

In Rogers’ own words, his vision is that cities of the future “will no longer be zoned as today in isolated one-activity ghettos; rather they will resemble the more richly layered cities of the past. Living, work, shopping, learning, and leisure will overlap and be housed in continuous, varied and changing structures.”

Pritzker Prize jury chairman, Lord Palumbo elaborated with more of the citation: “Throughout his distinguished career of more than forty years, Richard Rogers has consistently pursued the highest goals for architecture. Key Rogers projects already represent defining moments in the history of contemporary architecture. The Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1971-1977), designed in partnership with Renzo Piano, revolutionized museums, transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city. Lloyd’s of London in the City of London (1978-1986), another landmark of late twentieth century design, established Richard Rogers’ reputation as a master not only of the large urban building, but also of his own brand of architectural expressionism. As these buildings and other subsequent projects, such as the recently completed and acclaimed Terminal 4, Barajas Airport in Madrid (1997- 2005) demonstrate, a unique interpretation of the Modern Movement’s fascination with the building as machine, an interest in architectural clarity and transparency, the integration of public and private spaces, and a commitment to flexible floor plans that respond to the ever-changing demands of users, are recurring themes in his work.” Terminal 4, Barajas Airport won the 2006 Stirling Prize.

 

Rogers is the fourth laureate to be chosen from the United Kingdom, the first three being the late James Stirling in 1981, Lord Foster (Norman Foster) in 1999, and Zaha Hadid in 2004. He is the thirty-first laureate since the prize was founded in 1979. Rogers was appointed a Labour life peer in 1996 taking the title, The Lord Rogers of Riverside. In addition to London, Richard Rogers Partnership (which will be renamed Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners in the UK next month) has offices in Barcelona, Madrid and Tokyo. Some of the major projects that span the globe include: in New York, the design for a 71-story tower for the World Trade Center site at 175 Greenwich Street; in Washington, D.C., an office building under construction at 300 New Jersey Avenue; in UK, mentioning just a few works—the Leadenhall Building; the Millennium Experience; and an early project, Wimbledon House, a home for Rogers’ parents in the late 1960s; the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff; the Nippon Television Headquarters in Tokyo, as well as several other projects there and in South Korea. 

 

Read Deyan Sudjic's Essay

Throughout his distinguished career of more than forty years, Richard Rogers, The Lord Rogers of Riverside, has consistently pursued the highest goals for architecture.

Key Rogers projects already represent defining moments in the history of contemporary architecture. The Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1971-1977), designed in partnership with Renzo Piano, revolutionized museums, transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city. Lloyd’s of London in the City of London (1978-1986), another landmark of late twentieth century design, established Richard Rogers’ reputation as a master not only of the large urban building, but also of his own brand of architectural expressionism. As these buildings and other subsequent projects, such as the recently completed and acclaimed Terminal 4, Barajas Airport in Madrid (1997-2005) demonstrate, a unique interpretation of the Modern Movement’s fascination with the building as machine, an interest in architectural clarity and transparency, the integration of public and private spaces, and a commitment to flexible floor plans that respond to the ever-changing demands of users, are recurring themes in his work. Rogers’ buildings span numerous types, scales, and continents. All of his projects, however, are united by a formal rigor as well as a commitment to the user. Over the years, he has collaborated with a range of associates on projects large and small, though his steady hand remains evident in each.

Rogers combines his love of architecture with a profound knowledge of building materials and techniques. His fascination with technology is not merely for artistic effect, but more importantly, it is a clear echo of a building’s program and a means to make architecture more productive for those it serves. His championing of energy efficiency and sustainability has had a lasting effect on the profession.

Born in Florence, Italy, and trained as an architect in London, at the Architectural Association and, later, in the United States at Yale University, Rogers has an outlook as urbane and expansive as his upbringing. In his writings, through his role as advisor to policy-making groups, as well as his large-scale planning work, Rogers is a champion of urban life and believes in the potential of the city to be a catalyst for social change.

We know that architecture is a discipline of enormous political and social consequence. And today we celebrate Richard Rogers, a humanist, who reminds us that architecture is the most social of arts. Throughout his long, innovative career, Rogers shows us that perhaps the architect’s most lasting role is that of a good citizen of the world. For all of these outstanding qualities, the Jury awards Richard Rogers the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize. 

 

Jury Members

Lord Palumbo (Chairman)
Shigeru Ban
Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi
Rolf Fehlbaum
Frank Gehry
Carlos Jimenez
Victoria Newhouse
Karen Stein
Martha Thorne (Executive Director)

The Banqueting House, London, England

Originally part of the expansive Palace of Whitehall, the Banqueting Hall was designed by Inigo Jones in 1619 and completed in 1622. It was to replace a previous one destroyed by fire. For the overall building design, Architect Jones followed the principles of classical architecture of Rome and the Renaissance ideas of Palladio. The somber, stone Banqueting House formed a startling contrast to brightly painted Tudor buildings that surrounded it. Perhaps because of this or its association with masques (a popular form of court entertainment combining elements of a costume ball and theater), its architecture failed to attract much admiration in its day.

The fine proportions of the building are evident on the exterior and interior. The exterior elevation has three levels: a rusticated base; a first story with a series of windows crowned by alternating segmental and triangular pediments separated by Ionic columns, and pilasters that; and a second story with Corinthian columns and pilasters that correspond to those below, as do the windows and with a garland swag tying the capitals together beneath the flat balustraded roof. The Banqueting Hall underwent its most complete restoration in 1829 under Sir John Soane, and the uniform Portland stone on the exterior is due to his hand.

Inside at street level is the Undercroft which was originally designed as a drinking den for James I. Upon ascending the staircase, the magnificence of the Banqueting Hall is revealed. The hall measures 55 feet wide by 110 feet long and 55 feet high. For the elaborately decorated architrave, cornice, and frieze, Inigo Jones followed Venetian models.

However, the outstanding aspect of the Banqueting Hall is the ceiling, painted by Peter Paul Rubens. Commissioned by Charles I, the canvasses were painted by Rubens and his studio in Antwerp 1630 to 1634 and installed in the Banqueting Hall in 1636. Using a vocabulary of allegory and symbol, he created dramatic scenes that celebrate the monarchy.

The 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize ceremony took place in the Banqueting Hall with the participation of the Mayor of London, Martha Thorne, Executive Director, Lord Palumbo, Chair of the Jury ,Thomas J. Pritzker, President of The Hyatt Foundation, and of course, Sir Richard Rogers, the 2007 laureate.

 

Read Richard Rogers' Ceremony Acceptance Speech

Read Tom Pritzker's Ceremony Speech

Read Lord Peter Palumbo's Ceremony Speech

Read Martha Thorne's Ceremony Speech

 

The Banqueting House, London

Ceremony Highlights

Full Ceremony