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obituaries

John Taylor, founder partner of Chapman Taylor

John Taylor, a founder partner of Chapman Taylor Partners, was born in 1928, educated at Stowe and studied architecture at Cambridge and the Architectural Association.

It was while working for Guy Morgan in the mid-1950s that he met Bob Chapman and Jane Durham. In 1959 they left to set up their own practice, Chapman Taylor Partners, based initially in a turret in Grand Buildings, overlooking Trafalgar Square. The practice thrived over the years, reaching 650 staff in the mid-1980s.

With his passion for architecture, John's contribution to the evolution of ctp was significant. His love for buildings and landscape, no doubt inspired by his schooldays at Stowe, led the firm into new areas of work in the fields of masterplanning for the Grosvenor, Crown and Cadogan Estates and the Church Commissioners.

Believing not in a single style but in architecture, his heroes were architects such as John Campbell, Clough Williams Ellis, Richard Watt and Lutyens, in whose work he admired a unique response to context and a bold use of natural materials exploiting light and shade, coupled with an undoubted degree of eccentricity.

Among John's many buildings, in addition to the masterplanning of the great London Estates, are Caxton House, Tothill Street, Westminster, for Commercial Union Properties (1979) and Landsdowne House, comprising the redevelopment of the south side of Berkeley Square for Legal & General Assurance (1985). Both buildings make vigorous additions to the street scene and create strong elevations from the texture of Portland stone set against dark aluminium.

Likewise, One Drummond Gate, on the Crown's Millbank Estate, responds to the Victorian stucco context of Thomas Cubitt, with deeply modelled elevations constructed in white aluminium cladding running behind massive granite columns, tied together by a cornice beam at fourth floor level.

Bessborough Gardens on the Millbank Estate was one of the largest projects masterminded by John. A run-down area of Victoria comprising 11 hectares was transformed with new housing and offices, in a Neo-Classical style to reflect the spirit of Cubitt's original buildings, set around a new London square.

John also undertook many small-scale residential developments in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, and also designed houses for himself in London, Wales, the Outer Hebrides and Sydney.

John retired from ctp in 1992 and his last years were dogged by illness. He died at home on 7 August 1998 in his beloved Castell Gryn on the steep western slopes of the Clwydian Hills in North Wales. Of all John's buildings, Castell Gryn, built of local stone with crenellations set boldly against the sky, and incorporating the work of artists and craftsmen, symbolises his architectural beliefs and vision.

John was a 'big man' in all respects, whose advocacy inspired many young architects, clients and planning authorities. His vision inspires all of us at ctp today.

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