A painter, first and last, the architect Will Alsop provided a much-needed injection of humor and vitality to the somewhat staid pre-millennial architectural scene in London. Manhattan Modernist recalls this larger than life figure, lecturing at Cambridge University’s School of Architecture, with a glass of scotch in one hand and a cigar in the other. An appropriate stance for this colorful figure whose flamboyancy extended to his cigar-shaped and geometric buildings on legs. Memorable structures include Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre, UK, 1990 (above), Marseille’s regional government headquarters, France, 1994 (below), Hamburg Ferry Terminal, Germany, 1993, and his refreshingly blue North Greenwich Tube Station, UK, 1998.
With strong modernist roots, and a penchant for Pop Art and Archigram, Alsop’s architectural career was as dramatic and almost as chequered as his Sharp Centre for Design, at Ontario College of Art & Design, 2004, (below) his practice entering receivership, followed by rebrands and relaunches.
Nevertheless his painterly buildings, vibrant personality and his Stirling Prize winning seminal Peckham Library, 2000, challenged conventionality, emitting optimism and confidence in an uncertain context. Will and his claim that “lifting the spirit (..) is the job of the architect” will be missed.
(Photo Credit: Roderick Coyne. Other images are courtesy of All Design for Dezeen.)