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Rogers pays tribute to ‘most important planner in post-war Britain’

Richard Rogers has paid tribute to the urbanist and planner Peter Hall, who died earlier this week, aged 82

Rogers, partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, said: ‘Peter Hall was a great humanist and the most important planner in post-war Britain with a wide knowledge of the nature of cities around the world.

‘I had lunch with him only a few of weeks ago where we discussed the best examples of cities in Europe, a subject brilliantly covered by his last book Good Cities, Better Lives.

‘I got to know him well when I chaired the Urban Task Force where his advice was indispensable. There was only one area where we had a disagreement - his argument for garden cities and my belief in the compact city as the only sustainable way to accommodate growth - but he was as civilised in disagreement as he was in agreement.

His advice was indispensable

‘His continuing commitment to the garden cities movement was reflected in his writings on the legacy of Ebenezer Howard, and in his presidency of the Town and Country Planning Association, but his interests and scholarship ranged far wider. ‘

‘He was an inspiring colleague, a good friend and is truly a great loss to the profession.’

Further comments

Richard Simmons, visiting professor, University of Greenwich

‘To say that Peter Hall was a towering figure in planning and urbanism comes nowhere near doing him justice. He will be remembered as a giant for his research, writing and teaching alone. In fact he contributed so much more as an original thinker, and in developing policy and practice. I had the privilege to peer-review his most recent book, researched with Nick Falk, on learning from European cities. Peter was, as always, keen to be academically rigorous but also readable and useful to practitioners. What really stood out, and what made him great, was the ease with which he could explain the whole - the region, the city, the network - but also grasp the elusive details that make places liveable. We were developing with Design: South East a conference on one of Peter’s great loves, Garden Cities, at which he was to speak this October, so I can say with complete honesty that not only was he humane, and generous with his immense knowledge - he is irreplaceable.’

Matthew Carmona, professor, The Bartlett

‘It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of Professor Sir Peter Hall, a true colossus in the world of planning, and a much loved colleague and friend to us all here at The Bartlett.

‘Peter’s contribution to the world of planning academe is so significant and so extensive that it almost defies description, but is perhaps best represented in the catalogue of around 50 books that he authored or edited since beginning his academic career in 1957, many now seminal texts in the field including: London 2000, London 2001, The World Cities, Urban and Regional Planning, Great Planning Disasters, Cities of Tomorrow, Sociable Cities, Cities in Civilization; The Containment of Urban England, and most recently, Good Cities Better Lives. But Peter’s contributions were not limited to academe, and as well as advising governments around the world, he conceived many of the most influential planning ideas in the UK, such as enterprise zones; London’s orbital rail and strategic growth corridors; and recently contributed to the revival of interest in Garden Cities stemming from his role as Chair of the Town & Country Planning Association (since 1995).

‘Peter taught at the London School of Economics; University of Reading (where he was appointed Professor at the age of just 36); Berkeley, University of California; and The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, where he was appointed Bartlett Professor of Planning in 1992. And it is perhaps in these places that his greatest ongoing contribution to the field will continue to be felt long into the future, in the minds and works of the many thousands of students that he taught and inspired over his 67 year academic career.

‘As an indication of the esteem in which he is held worldwide, Peter was recipient of fourteen honorary doctorates from universities around the world; received the Founder’s Medal of the Royal Geographical Society; was an Honorary Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute from where he received the Gold Medal in 2003; was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and Fellow of the British Academy; received the 2005 Balzan Prize for work on the Social and Cultural History of Cities; and in 2008 received the Sir Patrick Abercrombie Prize of the International Union of Architects. He was knighted in 1998, and in 2003 was named by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as a “Pioneer in the Life of the Nation”.

‘But beyond all the awards and recognition, for us, here at The Bartlett, he was quite simply our inspiration. Peter’s intellectual curiosity and physical energy was legendary, as was his encyclopedic mind about all things planning (and anything to do with trains, including the historical timeline behind old lines and stations, and exactly where to get on and off tube trains at every station across London for the most efficient journey!). But despite his greatness, Peter was always prepared to spend time with all of us, encouraging us in our endeavors and supporting the School and University in every way he could, whilst looking optimistically to the future. His empathetic nature was outstanding.

‘Indeed despite his illness, which he never complained about but simply accepted, Peter was working at full pelt on ideas for the future, including developing new research and hatching student projects, right up until his final few days. And this is how we shall remember him, a man always able to draw from the lessons of the past, but firmly focused on the future and on planning as a force for good.

‘Peter, you were a force for good, and we shall miss you greatly.’

Previous story (AJ 31.07.14)

Obituary: Peter Hall (1932 - 2014)

Planner, urbanist, geographer and ‘intellectual giant’ Peter Hall has died aged 82

The Bartlett’s professor of planning and regeneration and the president of the Town and County Planning Association (TCPA) has been described as ‘one of the very few thinkers capable of a credible grand vision of the future’.

Kate Henderson, chief executive, TCPA, said his impact on planning in the UK could be compared to that of the founder of the Garden City movement Ebenezer Howard.

Born in Hampstead in 1932, Hall moved to Blackpool after his father, a clerical officer for the pensions service, was relocated. He would later become chair of the city’s urban regeneration company.

He studied geography at the University of Cambridge from where he graduated with both a masters degree and a PhD.

His academic career began in 1957 at Birkbeck College, London where he was a lecturer in geography. In 1968 he joined the University of Reading where he was Dean of the Faculty of Urban and Regional Studies. While holding the post at Reading he also became dean of the Faculty of Urban Planning and Regional Studies at the University of California in Berkeley.

Hall took up the post of chair of the Bartlett’s School of Planning in 1989, and he continued to work at the university until his death.

But he was not just an academic, Hall was also a prolific writer, penning more than 30 books throughout his lifetime, including London 2000 (1963), Cities in Civilisation (1998) and London Voices, London Lives – Tales from a Working Capital (2007).

Hall was a special adviser on strategic planning to the government between 1991 and 1994, and went on to join Richard Rogers’ Urban Task Force in 1998.

In 1998 Hall was knighted for his services to the TCPA and was named as a ‘Pioneer in the Life of the Nation’ by the Queen in 2003.

He received a number of awards throughout his career, including the Gold Medal of the Royal Town Planning Institute, and in 2005 was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to urban regeneration and planning by the then Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.

Even in his last days Hall remained vocal about planning issues, recently raising concerns about the new Crossrail station at Ealing Broadway, close to where he lived (AJ 02.06.14).

Peter Rees, the former City Planning Officer who joined the Bartlett himself earlier this year, said: ‘Right until the last few days he had been encouraging other researchers, refreshing his books and looking at new projects.

‘His influence has spread the globe and will continue to. He lived and breathed planning - but not in a dry way. He also had enormous patience and had the ability to see the long-term view - something which politicians often struggle to.

‘Let’s hope that the British planning system does not die with Peter. Alongside Abercrombie he was the father of British planning.’

Comments

Richard Saxon

‘Peter Hall seemed to live in the future and to float above London reading its runes. Long, long ago he proposed the M25 and described the regional city resulting from long distance rail commuting. He was the first to notice that passengers on trains from Paddington and Euston could wave to each other as they both passed through Willesden. He proposed Old Oak Common as the natural next Canary Wharf, as so it may well be. He also showed us how to not retire, again a message from the future.’

Kate Henderson, chief executive, TCPA

‘He was a man of acute intelligence and enormous generosity. He not only sustained the TCPA, but more than any other post war figure kept the cause of planning alive through difficult times. His historic grasp of the relevance of town planning and the high social ideals of the Garden City movement had latterly inspired renewed interest in place-making and gave hope to a new generation of practitioners and campaigners. Part of Peter’s brilliance was his passion to draw international learning on cities and communities and make it accessible to a global audience of students and planners. Though horrified by the growing inequality of cities like London he was above all a man full of enthusiasm for the possibilities of better places and how they could be achieved.

‘To say he was the leading international planner and geographer of his generation only tells half the story; he was a fine writer, author of countless books including the seminal Cities in Civilisation; and indeed one of his latest, Good Cities, Better Lives, is a typical tour-de-force analysing why European cities do much better than their British equivalents. He truly demystified academia, making planning both readable and exciting.

‘There is no doubt that we have lost a moral and intellectual giant of the planning movement in highest tradition of Ebenezer Howard and Frederic J. Osborne. There is also no doubt that Peter would have raised a wry smile to our current grief and pressed us to move on with his drive for sociable, inclusive and sustainable cities. Despite his great modesty, Peter was one of the very few thinkers capable of a credible grand vision of the future, but it is his humanity and kindness which will be so sadly missed by the all of us at the TCPA. His encouragement, energy and humour was our constant inspiration. Our sincere condolences go to his wife Magda, his brother John and his family.’

Cath Ranson, president of the RTPI

‘My thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues. His death is a massive blow to the profession and to academia but above all else to those who knew and loved him most.

‘When we have a little more time to reflect on his achievements, I am sure that we will recognise that Sir Peter was truly a ‘national treasure’, equally cherished, loved and admired. An intellectual colossus, he straddled theory and practice, managing to make planning not only interesting and accessible to any audience he wanted to, but fun too. Yet the true mark of his influence is that he was one of the very few academics whose name is instantly recognisable by those outside his discipline. He will be very sadly missed by everyone in the planning family.’

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