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Pierre Vago: 1910-2002

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The internationally acclaimed architect, writer, editor and critic has died at the age of 92 at his home near Paris. Dennis Sharp reflects on a lifetime's work and influence

The founder of the Union Internationale des Architectes (UIA) - an organisation that now has 800,000 members worldwide - Pierre Vago served as its secretary-general (1957-68) and latterly as honorary president.

Vago was born in Budapest in 1910, and moved with his family to Rome at an early age.His architect father, Joseph Vago, won the competition for the League of Nations in Geneva despite Le Corbusier's disqualification and disdain.

The young Vago, carrying letters of introduction from his father, left for Paris in 1928. There he met Le Corbusier who advised him not to go to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts before he found out who he was, but to begin a journey of self-education.

Vago settled for the Ecole Speciale (1928-32) studying under Auguste Perret, who became a lifelong friend.

At the age of 21, Vago took on the editorship of what was to become France's most respected architectural magazine, L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, an association that lasted until 1979. The magazine encouraged discussion among architects and led to the Reunion of Architects. From this initial organisation, the UIA was formed in 1948 at the RIBA. Sir Patrick Abercrombie was the first chairman, Vago the first secretary and the inaugural congress was held in Lausanne.After the Second World War, Vago began to build, first in Algeria and Tunisia and then at Lourdes, where, after building the famous Grotto of Bernadette, he designed the immense subterranean Basilica dedicated to St Pius in 1957. Many Catholic churches followed in France at Marseilles, Le Mans, Saint-Cyr and in Israel, the Monastery of St Claire at Nazareth, where he also designed the Cultural Center and the University of Jerusalem in 1971. In 1957, he designed a fine block of apartments for the Interbau exhibition in the Hansaviertal, Berlin, alongside work from more than 50 architects including Aalto, Bakema, Niemeyer and Gropius.

Vago was honoured by institutions around the world including the International Academy of Architecture, the academies in Berlin and Paris, the RIBA and the AIA - all of which recognised his international reputation within the profession he served and loved, and defined his status within it.

Dennis Sharp was a friend and colleague of Pierre Vago

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