Patrick Nuttgens (1930-2004)
Arriving in York in 1962, Patrick Nuttgens found a city 'already scarred by modern intrusions, displaying a remarkable lack of scholarship and an equally remarkable vulgarity'. Nuttgens, who has died at the age of 74, was an architect and educator with a passionate commitment to the Modernist cause in architecture and design, who was equally keen to conserve the best of the past - and frequently depressed by the failure of Modernism to contribute positively to the fabric of historic cities such as York.
Nuttgens'personality and outlook reflected the influence of the Chilterns Arts and Crafts milieu in which he was raised - the son of the stained glass artist Joseph Nuttgens (1892-1982), an associate of Eric Gill - and of the Roman Catholic faith which he maintained to the end of his days. He believed architecture was a social art that should serve the community and that conservation and good new design were equally important ingredients in a liveable city.
Trained in Edinburgh, where he came under the influence of Robert Matthew, Nuttgens went to York to run the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies (then based in a redundant church but later transplanted to the King's Manor). Inevitably, he became actively involved in the establishment of the new University of York (designed by RMJM), where he was for some time the only architect member of staff.Under Nuttgens, the IAAS thrived, with conservation studies one of its specialities.Nuttgens was deeply attached to York, the subject of his perceptive book York: the continuing city (1976). He was for some years president of the York Georgian Society.
In 1969, however, Nuttgens moved to Leeds as first director of the new polytechnic (now Leeds Metropolitan University). It was a demanding and difficult task, not least because the polytechnic remained under the management of a local authority with which relations were sometimes fraught. It was the onset of multiple sclerosis that forced his retirement in 1986.
Nuttgens was a fluent lecturer and broadcaster and the author of two books aimed at a broad audience, The story of architecture and Understanding modern architecture, the latter, published in 1988, reflecting Nuttgens'exasperation at the narrowness of the Prince of Wales'architectural campaigns of the 1980s. He was a man of immense personal charm and generosity, who bore his many years of disability with remarkably good humour. He will be greatly missed both in Yorkshire and on the British architectural scene generally.