He was a “stupid disciple” and then became the pioneer of the immortal “Hi-Tech” engineering movement


Richard Rogers is one of the world’s best-known architects, with nearly 400 structures featuring light structures dotted with pre-built elements and experimenting with avant-garde materials. It pioneered the distinct engineering ‘Hi-Tech’ movement through its transparent glass and steel constructions.

British architect Richard Rogers, who died this week at the age of 88, built his international fame with his revolutionary design for the Center Pompidou in Paris.

Among the famous buildings designed by this Italian immigrant, who won the Pritzker Prize – named the Nobel Architecture – in 2007, is the headquarters of the uniquely engineered insurance company Lloyd’s, which has been in the City Financial District of London since 1986.

This “mechanical cathedral” has become one of the British capital’s most famous landmarks, and is a celebration of machine and technology.

Prior to the renovation of the Montparnasse district in Paris, Rogers engineered the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the offices in Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz, and one of the buildings at Madrid’s Barajas International Airport, as well as the Three World Trade Center in New York and the Millennium Dome in London for the occasion. The celebrations of 2000 drew harsh criticism from Prince Charles.

The architect was awarded the title “Lord Rogers of Riverside”, and since 1996 has been a member of the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the British Parliament, among the ranks of workers.

“stupid pupil”

Richard Rogers was born in Florence in 1933 to a father, a doctor, and a mother who was an old student of Irish novelist and poet James Joyce. He fled with his family from Italy during the reign of Mussolini in 1938 to reside in London. The family had to leave their Florentine flat to live in a miserable London hostel.

He ranks among the pioneers of the “hi-tech” architectural movement, which features glass and steel designs and visible connecting tubes.

“I was very late” in school, Rogers said in a previous interview with the Guardian newspaper, “In that era, the topic of dyslexia was not known. They simply looked at me as a stupid student.”

An adventurous Rogers served in the British Army before joining with great difficulty the Architectural Association School in London, known for its modernity at the time.

He received a degree in architecture in 1962 from Yale University in the United States, where he met Norman Foster. Upon returning to England in 1964, they and their wives co-founded Team 4, a company known for its tech-inspired engineering designs.

Rogers ranks among the pioneers of the “hi-tech” architectural movement featuring glass and steel designs and visible pipework (AFP)

Pioneering Lean Engineering

In 1968, Rogers met Italian Renzo Piano, with whom he shared a penchant for flexible geometry. They quickly became friends, and in 1971 these “naughties”, as they called themselves, won a competition to design the architecture of a new museum of contemporary art in Paris that later became known as the Center Pompidou.

With the labyrinth of connection pipes visible in primary colors and the wide open courtyard, the Pompidou Center drew criticism from some parties when it was inaugurated in 1977, to the extent that painter Sonia Dolony said that she preferred to burn her paintings rather than display them in a place that others likened to an “oil refinery.”

“Young architects are very naive,” Rogers told the Guardian, noting that “the press has lived in hell. For seven years, only two positive articles have been written about us. I don’t know how we got out of this situation.”

The always-smiling architect was married twice, and lost one of his five children in 2011.

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