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Rogers is perhaps best known for his work on the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Lloyd's building and Millennium Dome both in London, the Senedd in Cardiff, and the European Court of Human Rights building in Strasbourg. He is a winner of the RIBA Gold Medal, the Thomas Jefferson Medal, the RIBA Stirling Prize, the Minerva Medal and Pritzker Prize.
Early life and career
Rogers was born in Florence in 1933. He went to St Johns School, Leatherhead upon moving to England, and later attended the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, before graduating with a master's degree from the Yale School of Architecture in 1962. While studying at Yale, Rogers met fellow architecture student Norman Foster and planning student Su Brumwell. On returning to England he, Foster and Brumwell set up architectural practice as Team 4 with Wendy Cheeseman (Brumwell later married Rogers, Cheeseman married Foster). Rogers and Foster earned a reputation for what was later termed by the media high-tech architecture.
By 1967, Team 4 had split up, but Rogers continued to collaborate with Su Rogers, along with John Young and Laurie Abbott. In early 1968 he was commissioned to design a house and studio for Humphrey Spender near Maldon, Essex, a glass cube framed with I-beams. He continued to develop his ideas of prefabrication and structural simplicity to design a Wimbledon house for his parents. This was based on ideas from his conceptual 'Zip Up' house, such as the use of standardised components based on refrigerator panels to make energy-efficient buildings. Rogers subsequently joined forces with Italian architect Renzo Piano, a partnership that was to prove fruitful. His career leapt forward when he, Piano and Gianfranco Franchini won the design competition for the Pompidou Centre in July 1971, alongside a team from Ove Arup that included Irish engineer Peter Rice.
This building established Rogers's trademark of exposing most of the building's services (water, heating and ventilation ducts, and stairs) on the exterior, leaving the internal spaces uncluttered and open for visitors to the centre's art exhibitions. This style, dubbed "Bowellism" by some critics, was not universally popular at the time the centre opened in 1977, but today the Pompidou Centre is a widely admired Parisian landmark. Rogers revisited this inside-out style with his design for London's Lloyd's building, completed in 1986 – another controversial design which has since become a famous and distinctive landmark in its own right.
After working with Piano, Rogers established the Richard Rogers Partnership along with Marco Goldschmied, Mike Davies and John Young in 1977. This became Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners in 2007. The firm maintains offices in London, Shanghai and Sydney.
Rogers has devoted much of his later career to wider issues surrounding architecture, urbanism, sustainability and the ways in which cities are used. One early illustration of his thinking was an exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1986, entitled "London As It Could Be", which also featured the work of James Stirling and Rogers' former partner Norman Foster. This exhibition made public a series of proposals for transforming a large area of central London, subsequently dismissed as impractical by the city's authorities.
In 1995, he became the first architect to deliver the BBC's annual Reith Lectures. This series of five talks, titled Sustainable City, were later adapted into the book Cities for a Small Planet (Faber and Faber: London 1997, ISBN 0-571-17993-2). The BBC made these lectures available to the public for download in July 2011.
In 1998, he set up the Urban Task Force at the invitation of the British government, to help identify causes of urban decline and establish a vision of safety, vitality and beauty for Britain's cities. This work resulted in a white paper, Towards an Urban Renaissance, outlining more than 100 recommendations for future city designers. Rogers also served for several years as chair of the Greater London Authority panel for Architecture and Urbanism. He has been chair of the board of Trustees of The Architecture Foundation. From 2001 to 2008 he was chief advisor on architecture and urbanism to Mayor of London Ken Livingstone; he was subsequently asked to continue his role as an advisor by new mayor Boris Johnson in 2008. He stood down from the post in October 2009. Rogers has also served as an advisor to two mayors of Barcelona on urban strategies.
Amidst this extra-curricular activity, Rogers has continued to create controversial and iconic works. Perhaps the most famous of these, the Millennium Dome, was designed by the Rogers practice in conjunction with engineering firm Buro Happold and completed in 1999. It was the subject of fierce political and public debate over the cost and contents of the exhibition it contained; the building itself cost £43 million.
In May 2006, Rogers' practice was chosen as the architect of Tower 3 of the new World Trade Center in New York City, replacing the old World Trade Center which was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.
Some of Rogers's recent plans have failed to get off the ground. The practice was appointed to design the replacement to the Central Library in the Eastside of Birmingham; however, his plan was shelved for financial reasons. City Park Gate, the area adjacent to the land the library would have stood on, is now being designed by Ken Shuttleworth's MAKE Architects.
Richard and Su Rogers, with John Young and Laurie Abbott
Piano + Rogers
The Richard Rogers Partnership
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Honours and awards
Rogers was knighted in 1981 by Queen Elizabeth II. He was created Baron Rogers of Riverside in 1996. He sits as a Labour peer in the House of Lords. Rogers was appointed a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in the 2008 Birthday Honours list.
Rogers was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 1985 and made a Chevalier, L’Ordre National de la Légion d'honneur in 1986. He received a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 10th Mostra di Architettura di Venezia. In 2006, the Richard Rogers Partnership was awarded the Stirling Prize for Terminal 4 of Barajas Airport, and again in 2009 for Maggie's Centre in London. In 2007 Rogers was made Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize – architecture's highest honour. He was awarded the Minerva Medal by the Chartered Society of Designers in the same year.
Rogers has been awarded honorary degrees from several universities, including Alfonso X El Sabio University in Madrid, Oxford Brookes University, the University of Kent, the Czech Technical University in Prague and the Open University. In 1994, he was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) by the University of Bath.
In February 2006, Lord Rogers hosted the inaugural meeting of the campaigning organisation Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP) in his London offices. At that time his practice had secured a number of projects in New York, including the redevelopment of the Silvercup Studios site, a masterplan for the East River Waterfront and a commission for a $1.7 billion expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Centre in Manhattan. Rogers however publicly dissociated himself from the group within weeks, following an outcry from generally pro-Israeli New York voters and politicians, which threatened him with the loss of prestigious commissions including projects in New York and abroad. He announced his withdrawal with the statement, "I unequivocally renounce Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine and have withdrawn my relationship with them."
Rogers is married to Ruth Rogers, chef and co-owner of The River Café restaurant in west London. They had two sons together, Roo and Bo (deceased). He also has three sons, Ben, Zad and Ab, from his first marriage to Su Brumwell. He has ten grandchildren and a Brother, Peter William Rogers.