Richard Rogers RA

I went to the launch of Richard Rogers’s new book, A Place for all people, which grows out of the exhibition that he did in Burlington Gardens in 2013 and is similarly personal, reflective and wide-ranging.   It starts (this is as much as I have had time to read) with an account of his unexpectedly privileged upbringing, born in an apartment overlooking the Duomo in Florence, surrounded by furniture designed by his cousin, Ernesto, then translated into the ghastliness of an English private school where he seems to have survived by a mixture of cunning, good looks and brawn (these characteristics maybe served him in his architecture as well).   Looking at the picture of Ernesto’s Torre Velasca in Milan, designed when Richard was working in the office, it looks at least as radical and disruptive, although designed in traditional materials, as the Centre Pompidou was to be fifteen years later.   The influences on his architectural development were what one might expect of someone of his generation – New York, Mies, the Smithsons, industrial buildings and Jim Stirling.   What was distinctive were his interest in radical methods of lightweight construction and the depth of his social concerns.

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