Ricky Burdett, director of LSE Cities, remembers the critical role that his mentor and friend Richard Rogers played in establishing the centre over 20 years ago.
The architect and urbanist Richard Rogers died at the age of 88 in December 2021 after a long and illustrious career spanning six decades. He influenced many generations of designers, urban practitioners and policymakers around the world.
Richard’s passionate belief in the connections between the social and the physical in architecture and urbanism inspired the intellectual framework of the Cities Programme, established at the LSE over 20 years ago. He was a member of its founding Advisory Board and participated in some of the early initiatives that brought mayors, urban policymakers, planners and designers together. This evolved into the Urban Age, LSE Cities’ signature programme established in 2004.
Richard Rogers speaking at the Istanbul Urban Age Conference in 2009
I was fortunate to have worked alongside Richard for many years and was a member, alongside other LSE academics, of the Urban Task Force, which he chaired for the UK Government. The final report Towards and Urban Renaissance has influenced urban thinking and policymaking since its publication in 1998. The social and environmental benefits of the compact city, the relationship between density and public space, and the importance of democratic city governance were some of Richard’s key urban concerns that directly impacted London and other cities across the world. They also helped shape the research, teaching and outreach ethos of LSE Cities.
As an architect Richard Rogers was perhaps best known for his work on the Pompidou Centre in Paris (with Renzo Piano), the Lloyd's Building, Millennium Dome and Heathrow Terminal 5 in London, the Senedd building in Cardiff, and the European Court of Human Rights building in Strasbourg. His practice RHSP designed the Centre Building at LSE and conceived of the urban plaza which has become the centre of campus life.
LSE Centre Building and plaza by RSHP
Always dressed in vibrant colours, matching the lively exteriors of his buildings, Richard was passionate about education. His warm and generous personality inspired students and politicians alike. Richard has left behind a significant legacy that will continue to inspire future generations at LSE and citymakers worldwide.