George Grenfell-Baines

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Professor Sir George Grenfell-Baines
Born (1908-04-30)30 April 1908
Preston
Died 9 May 2003(2003-05-09) (aged 95)
Preston
Nationality British
Practice Building Design Partnership

Professor Sir George Grenfell-Baines OBE DL (30 April 1908 – 9 May 2003) was an English architect and town planner. Born in Preston, as George Baines, his family’s humble circumstances forced him to start work at the age of fourteen. Both George and his younger brother, Richard (Dick), were prodigiously gifted mathematicians and draughtsmen. George left a secure, but limiting, job in the Lancashire County Architect’s Office to work for the prestigious private firm of Bradshaw Gass & Hope in Bolton in 1930.

During the 1930s, George became aware of Modernism, particularly the work of Le Corbusier and Gropius, through the architectural press and was determined to practice it himself. He studied at Manchester University for two years from 1934. It was at this time he adopted the name George Grenfell Baines at the suggestion of fellow student Gerald Hayforthwaite. Later this was hyphenated as Grenfell-Baines: Grenfell being his mother’s maiden name. He was known to friends and colleagues as “GG”.

In 1935, he was awarded the Heywood prize for the design of reinforced concrete flats. The following year he was awarded the third prize in a competition for a new Rhodesian Parliament; the prize money, £250, was enough to enable him to start his own practice.
GG’s work for the Air Ministry during World War II brought him to the attention of Anthony Chitty and the London Modernists. Although GG always chose to be based in Preston, he cultivated friendships in national and international circles. In 1951, he was invited to design a pavilion for the Festival of Britain. GG’s post-war work included the New Towns of Newton Aycliffe (planned 1947) and Peterlee (planned 1948).

An abiding interest for GG was multidisciplinary working. His highly successful firm BDP (Building Design Partnership) was the result of numerous experiments in management structure.

In 1972, he became Professor of Architecture at Sheffield University where he founded the Design Teaching Partnership. GG officially retired in 1974 but continued working as a consultant into his final decade. GG received an OBE in 1960 and was knighted in 1978.

References[edit]

Grenfell-Baines, George (2000), interviewed by Louise Brodie at Preston, (January 5–11) Architects’ Lives, London: National Biographical Archive, C467/46/F7839.
White, Bill (1987), The Spirit Of BDP, Preston: BDP.

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