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Former RIBA president Bryan Jefferson dies

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Former RIBA president Bryan Jefferson, described as ‘the last architect to have any influence in government’, has died aged 86

The founding partner of Jefferson Sheard grew up in Sheffield and stayed in the city to study - although he was sent out to Bakewell during the blitz - before graduating from the University of Sheffield in 1957.

In 1958, he set up the practice Jefferson Sheard with friend and fellow Sheffield alumnus Gerry Sheard. The practice quickly grew opening a London office in 1964, and an office in Peterborough in the early 1980s.

The office designed a number of Sheffield’s post-war landmarks including the Roxy building, and the recently grade II-listed Moore Street electricity substation. The Brutalist substation was described by English Heritage as having ‘scrupulously-finished concrete’ that gives the building a ‘bold…. dramatic, sculptural feel’ (AJ 20.09.13).

In a statement, the practice said Jefferson had been proud of the substation listing. It said: ‘Bryan was rightly proud that his iconic Moore Street substation was listed in 2013 – he was characteristically and cheekily amused that “my buildings are being listed whilst those of my contemporaries are demolished” – and no less delighted when he was invited to switch on the floodlighting of that building in October 2010’.

The practice added: ‘Many of Sheffield’s landmark buildings remain as his manifest tribute to his birthplace.

‘Bryan Jefferson was a true master of his profession and one of the most respected figures in the world of architecture, design and construction as well as in the public life of this country’.

Jefferson was president of the RIBA from 1979 to 1981.  

In the eighties Jefferson left practice to become the director general of design services at the government’s property services agency and architectural adviser to the secretary of state for the environment and the department of national heritage. It was during this role that he offered advice to ministers on subjects ranging from architectural competitions to policy.

It was this role that led AJ editorial director Paul Finch to describe Jefferson as ‘the last architect to have any influence in government’ (AJ 03.09.14).

Finch said Jefferson ‘offered wise, non-partisan advice to ministers on subjects ranging from architectural competitions to issues of built environment policy’.

He also supported the introduction of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

Jefferson, who died on 19 October, is survived by his wife Jean, and two sons Peter and David.   

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