Obituary: Brian Richards ; Architect with a Rare Devotion to Transport Design

By Sharp, Dennis | The Independent (London, England), December 29, 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Obituary: Brian Richards ; Architect with a Rare Devotion to Transport Design

Sharp, Dennis, The Independent (London, England)

DESIGNING FOR people living, working and moving in cities was the primary focus of the work of the architect and transport consultant Brian Richards.

As a boy his young mind was taken up with roads and transport. His father was a road surveyor in Somerset who during the Second World War served in the Army building bridges in France after D- Day. Brian, whose mother had died when he was eight, was transferred to Glasgow at the outbreak of the war and sent to school at Trinity College, Glenalmond, in Perthshire, where in 1945 he gained a scholarship at the age of 17 to begin training as an architect. He attended the School of Architecture, Liverpool University, which, at the time, was a celebrated and lively school and where one of Brian Richards's contemporaries was James Stirling.

On leaving Liverpool Richards obtained a Fullbright Fellowship to complete his postgraduate work at Yale. There he came under the influence of the former Bauhaus teacher Josef Albers and initiated a lifelong friendship with the Indian architect Charles Correa, with whom he was to work years later on a transportation study for the New Bombay Plan.

While on the East Coast he worked briefly in the office of the New York architect responsible for the UN Building, Wallace Harrison, before returning to Europe in 1953 to join an international team in Tangiers and Paris in the office of Candilis, Bodiansky and Woods. Richards's first major building was a community school in Casablanca for an Atbat-Afrique programme of what were called "Mohammedan dwellings". Atbat (Atelier de Batisseurs) was set up in 1947 with Le Corbusier when Vladimir Bodiansky and the American Shad Woods were working on his Unite d'Habitation in Marseilles.

Returning to England in 1955, Richards worked first for Richard Sheppard's practice before joining the office of H.T. Cadbury Brown taking charge of the design and construction of Gravesend Town Hall. Five years on he opened his own practice in London.

During this fertile period he took up an appointment as a fifth- year tutor at the Architectural Association and began his serious involvement in ideas for traffic and people movements and for transport design. It was this highly complex subject area on which he continued to lecture at the AA and the Bartlett School at University College London until quite recently, inspiring successive generations of students.

Richards was particularly interested in the dynamics of transportation systems. He believed that this was a political hot potato - the subject of countless reports but little action. Despite all the policy statements a clear understanding was lacking of the fundamental design options offered.

Not that this was an entirely new issue. It had occupied the minds of planners for years, but Richards gave it a new focus. Lewis Mumford had pointed out the political expediency behind transport planning in his 1938 book The Culture of Cities, where he states that the "main use is to uphold the crowd-prestige of the metropolis and increase the pecuniary values garnered by .

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Obituary: Brian Richards ; Architect with a Rare Devotion to Transport Design


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?