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'Influence to a generation' David Gosling dies aged 67

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Architect and urban designer David Gosling, who has died aged 67 in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, was one of the most influential teachers and urban commentators of his generation. Born in 1934, he studied architecture and town planning at Manchester University, and on being awarded a Harkness Fellowship in 1957, continued his studies at MIT, gaining his Masters degree in architecture in 1958 and a Masters degree in city planning from Yale the following year.

He was influenced by his American tutors, the urban theorists Kevin Lynch and Lewis Mumford, but it was possibly the work of Gordon Cullen in Britain, and in particular his theoretical writing in the Architectural Review of the 1950s and his incredible graphic skills, that remained a source of inspiration for most of Gosling's career.

In 1973, Gosling invited Cullen and Kenneth Browne to participate in an urban design study for Maryculter - a privately financed Scottish New Town.

Although this work sadly remained 'on paper', it marked the beginning of a series of interesting collaborations with Cullen, including their 1975 competition entry for the Island of Porto Santo, the Bridgetown study, Barbados 1978 and the Isle of Dogs study for the London Docklands Redevelopment competition in 1981.

Gosling was a larger-than-life character who lived life to the full. He was a man of great physical presence and charisma, yet his artistic talents and ambition came with a personality of complexity and extreme emotion. There was warmth and encouragement - as an external critic and examiner in schools of architecture, his support for young design talent was unparalleled, and his desire to seek and credit the true originators of inspirational design was pursued almost to the point of obsession. There were also volatile outbursts, often in pursuit of the values he believed in. But this was always tempered with a sense of humour which endeared him to colleagues and enabled him to connect with students in a way that is all too often absent in schools of architecture.

Gosling was at the forefront of British New Town Developments, becoming deputy chief architect and planner to Runcorn New Town in 1965. It was here that he promoted the work of James Stirling, recommending his appointment as architect for the 1967 low cost housing (an influential project of certain notoriety) and gained a string of international publications for his work in the town centre projects.

In 1968, he became chief architect and planner at Irvine New Town in Scotland, and became professor and head of the school of architecture and later dean of the faculty of architectural studies at the University at Sheffield. Together with a group of committed colleagues, he transformed a respected provincial department into one of the country's leading schools of architecture. This was stimulated by an enviable visiting critic programme established by Gosling in 1975 including such names as Peter Moro, Ted Cullinan, Ron Herron, Peter Cook, Frank Newby, Ian Ritchie, and Michael Wilford, and resulted in award-winning student projects and competition successes.

He became a distinguished author during his time at Sheffield, producing The Design and Planning of Retail Systems, Concepts of Urban Design, and Gordon Cullen - Visions of Urban Design, published to great critical acclaim and winner of an American Institute of Architects Award.

Research for this book coincided with his move to the US. In 1991, he accepted the invitation to become the state of Ohio's first eminent scholar in urban design at the University of Cincinnati and became director of the Centre for Urban Design.

Gosling was a distinguished urbanist, planner, critic, and teacher. He was a great communicator with skills as an artist, draughtsman and photographer. He will be remembered for his buildings and writings, but perhaps his greatest legacy will be as a mentor to students who have subsequently become central figures in nationally and internationally renowned architectural practices.

He leaves a wife, Miriam, and four children.

Stephen Proctor, Proctor Matthews Architects

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