Richard Rogers, John McAslan and Roger Zogolovitch have paid tribute to the ‘inspirational’ David Mackay who died earlier this week aged 80
David was a wonderful, warm man and a very talented architect.
David and his partner at MBM, Oriol Bohigas, together with the Mayor of Barcelona, Pasqual Maragall, were the driving spirit behind the transformation of Barcelona into the most exciting contemporary city in Europe. MBM renovated the port area and designed and constructed the Olympic Village in 1992 which brought work and life back into the derelict city. London used Barcelona as a model for the 2012 Olympics and as a catalyst for the development of East London and the surrounding area.
David greatly influenced modern architecture and urban planning. He was lead architect for the renovation of the City of Plymouth and his sense of social responsibility and love of the public domain is captured in much of his work. His last building, Disseny Hub Barcelona, the new Barcelona Design Museum, which is due to open in December, is a beautiful sculptural form.
David, his wife Roser and family are close friends. I will miss him greatly.
I first met David when we invited him to come to Edinburgh University in the late 1970s. He gave us an inspirational talk introducing us not only to his own work but those of his contemporaries and the great Catalan tradition of Gaudi, Berenguer and others.
We kept in touch over the years and he was a great supporter of our George Square competition win, as jury chairman, along with his fellow jury member, the wonderful Andy MacMillan – it’s so sad to realise both these great architects and larger than life characters are no longer with us.
I was privileged to work with David on his UK projects of urban design, including the Millennuim Village at Greenwich, the Lea Valley, Hastings and Bexhill masterplan and ‘a Vision for Plymouth’
David was inspirational in his understanding of urban masterplanning. I remember days spent simply driving and walking around the city we were analysing, connecting a forensic investigation of the maps with the current reality.
He had a demanding approach to the rigorous analysis of the historic pattern of a city and its layers of interpretation over time. This came with an understanding of the public space; its humanity and incidence; its theatre and vitality. This gave his vison the romance of the moment and opened possibilities for the future.
In his Vision for Plymouth 2003 he set out a blueprint for the City’s development. For him this was a wonderful connection between his legacy of Barcelona’s regeneration, meeting Abercrombie’s post war plan for Plymouth. It was a triumph of perception, vision and ambition.
To witness David as he addressed audiences presenting his vision for the future of their cities was magnificent. He captured the richest of metaphor. I recall the image he used to illustrate his proposal for the Hastings and Bexhill masterplan: a vibrant image of Matisse’s painting of the dance, describing an inspiring unity of his dream for these two separated communities to be connected.
His vision for the cities where he was engaged will be his heritage and will gather strength and reality over the passing of the years.