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Kevin Roche dies, aged 96

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Pritzker Prize winner Kevin Roche has died, aged 96

Born in Ireland, the architect worked with Maxwell Fry in London in 1946 and studied under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology before moving to New York in 1949, where he went on to work on a number of major projects, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

After working at the planning office for the United Nations Headquarters, Roche joined Eero Saarinen and Associates in 1950 and met his future business partner, John Dinkeloo, there a year later.

Roche became principal design associate under Saarinen and assisted on all his projects until Saarinen’s death in September 1961.

In 1966, Roche and Dinkeloo set up as Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates and delivered 12 of Saarinen’s unbuilt schemes, including the Gateway Arch and the TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport in New York.

Later New York schemes include the 1968 Ford Foundation Building in East Midtown, the reworking of Central Park Zoo 1988 and the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Memorial to the Holocaust.

Roche also worked extensively elsewhere in the USA and beyond with a portfolio of 200 built projects, including eight museums, seven research laboratories, buildings for six universities, and 38 institutional and corporate headquarters. 

As well as the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1982, Roche received the Académie d’Architecture Grand Gold Medal in 1977, the Gold Medal for Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1990, and the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal in 1993.

Roche is survived by his wife of 55 years, Jane Clair Roche (née Tuohy), whom he met at Eero Saarinen and Associates, his five children Eamon, Paud, Denis, Anne and Alice, their spouses and his 15 grandchildren.

A statement put out by his family said: ’Eamonn Kevin Roche will be missed dearly by his family and friends. A modest and compassionate man, he will be remembered enduringly for his contributions to the field of architecture and for his great humanity.

’As we mourn his passing, we remember the final remarks he gave in his Pritzker Prize acceptance speech: “We should, all of us, bend our will to create a civilisation in which we can live at peace with nature and each other. To build well is an act of peace. Let us hope that it will not be in vain”.’

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  • Kevin Roche was from Mitchelstown , County Cork , Ireland

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  • Semi-educated guesswork is tempting, but why so few captions to the images?
    In this country Roche Dinkeloo created the elegant Corten and glass factory pavilion for Cummins Diesel at Darlington in 1966, commissioned by Irwin Miller - who must rank high among those industrialists who see the value in good architecture.

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  • I was fortunate enough to visit Kevin Roche's elegant campus at Wesleyan University a number of years ago. It's an excellent example of considered place-making, buildings situated in meaningful relationship with the landscape to create a uniquely special and harmonious whole. An under-celebrated project which was a pleasure to experience and left a lasting impression.

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