Ian Ritchie (architect)

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Professor Ian Ritchie (born 24 June 1947,[1] in Sussex) CBE is a British architect.

After working with Norman Foster (1972–76), Ritchie spent two years in France designing and constructing projects. In 1979 he founded Chrysalis Architects and also worked at Arup's Lightweight Structures Group in London. In 1981 he created Ian Ritchie Architects in London, and co-founded the design engineering firm Rice Francis Ritchie (RFR) with Peter Rice and Martin Francis in Paris. Before leaving RFR in 1989, this practice had been responsible for major projects in Paris including the Bioclimatic Façades at la Villette Cité des Sciences, and the Louvre Pyramids and Sculpture Courts with I M Pei. Building Design has described him as "an architect prepared to break with convention."[2]


His practices have helped realise many internationally renowned buildings including:

UK: Wood Lane Station, London; Royal Shakespeare Company Courtyard Theatre,[3][4] Stratford Upon Avon; Plymouth Theatre Royal Production Centre (TR2), Plymouth;[5] International Regatta Centre, London Jubilee Line Extension, Bermondsey Station, London

France: Electricité de France High Voltage Pylons; Terrasson Cultural Greenhouse, Dordogne; Albert Cultural and Sports Centre, Somme

Spain: Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art, Madrid

Germany: Leipzig International Exhibition Centre Glass Hall

Ireland: The Spire, Dublin[6]

Raising design quality in social housing and international design exchange[edit]

In 1999, Ian Ritchie Architects designed and realised with Scottish Homes and Thenew Housing Association innovative social housing in Glasgow's East End.[7] The project was monitored by Scottish Homes for the first three years of occupation.

In 2000, as founding CABE commissioner, Ian Ritchie established and chaired a Housing Industry Research Group which included Peabody, Guinness, Rowntree, Nationwide, Popular Housing Forum, FPD Savills, Arup, DETR, Bellway, Westbury, Chelsfield and London Residential Research.

In 2000, Ian Ritchie, while a CABE Commissioner, initiated a cross-cultural exchange between CABE and La Direction de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine (DAPA) to explore how differences in design, financing, procurement and manufacture of social housing could be used to benefit both the UK and French supply. A protocol was signed between the two agencies and in autumn 2002, a social housing Design, R&D and Construction programme of projects to be constructed in Paris and Sénart, London and the South East Region was officially launched. The first constructed project is at Whitecity, London, designed by Cartwright Pickard (London) and BCD Architectes (Paris).

From 1997 to 2003, Ian Ritchie was president of Europan UK (a pan European urban and social housing biennial design competition for young architects). Since 2004 this organisation has been managed by CABE.

Raising government awareness that architecture is a cultural product[edit]

Working as Architectural Advisor to the Lord Chancellor (1999–2004), Ian Ritchie had a central role in helping to formulate procurement and design quality policy within the Lord Chancellor's Department for all new court buildings. This includes Magistrate, County, Crown and new Civil Justice Centres, including the award winning Manchester CJC. Supported by the Lord Chancellor, the policy aim was to establish the Lord Chancellor's Department as an exemplar of design standards that other Ministries would recognise and emulate.

Ian Ritchie has spoken at National and International conferences on current UK mechanisms to improve the quality of our built environment.

Ian Ritchie was CABE's first Emeritus Commissioner representing CABE at international seminars and conferences.

Environmentally intelligent design[edit]

Well before sustainability was on any government agenda, Ian Ritchie was lecturing on the subject using his own projects as exemplars, beginning with low-cost, self–construct, passive and active solar energy housing (Fluy 1976, Eagle Rock house 1981)and a designed zero-energy cultural greenhouse (theatre/exhibition space), France 1993.

Ian Ritchie also chaired the launch of the first major global book on sustainability, Seymour, Girardet and Penney's Blueprint for A Green Planet, at The Ecology Centre, London, 1987.

He has been lobbying since 1987 in Europe (ECTP), and UK Government, English Heritage, and advising volume house Builders (Wimpey and Berkeley Homes).

Ian Ritchie has given many international keynote lectures since the mid-90s on a wide range of topics, regularly encompassing an environmentally intelligent and ethical approach to design in Europe, USA and China.

Exhibitions and teaching[edit]

Ian Ritchie was Special Professor at Leeds University School of Civil Engineering (2001–2004) where he taught on the 4-year Masters Civil Engineering with Architecture course. An ambition was to have the course recognised by the RIBA as well as the Institution of Civil Engineers and The Institution of Structural Engineers.

He sat on Cambridge University's Advisory Committee for the postgraduate IDBE Masters course in Interdisciplinary Design in the Built Environment (2001–2004).

He has been a member of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Built Environment Panel since 2001 which selects and grants two-year research fellowships on current urban issues; and the Design Fellowship Panel established in 2006.

He has represented The Architects' Council of Europe on the European Construction Technology Platform High Level Group setting the 2025 agenda for Built Environment R&D.

Ian Ritchie has been visiting Professor of Architecture to Moscow State University, Technical University Vienna and taught at the Architectural Association. He has been external examiner for Oxford Brookes University and is currently Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Liverpool.

Ian Ritchie has also designed exhibitions for the Hayward Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts and conceived an exhibition for Gasometer GmbH.

The practice's work has been exhibited extensively. UK venues include: Hayward Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate Gallery; and internationally: Tokyo, New York, Moscow, Germany, Paris Biennale, Venice Biennale.

Ritchie’s personal art work is in public collections at the Royal Academy of Arts, National Museum Centro de Arte Reina Sofía; MAG Lodz and private collections.

Current appointments[edit]

Professor of Architecture, Royal Academy of Arts; Chairman, Royal Academy of Arts Collections & Library Committee; Governor, Royal Shakespeare Company; Emeritus Commissioner, CABE – the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment; Advisor to The Ove Arup Foundation; Advisor to the President of Columbia University.

Ian Ritchie is frequently asked to chair national and international juries, including the French Government 'Nouveaux Jeunes Albums' (2004), France, the RIBA Stirling Awards (2006), and the RIAS Doolan Awards (2009).[8]


International and national architectural awards: Ian Ritchie Architects have won more than 50 national and international awards. These include the Iritecna Prize for Europe (1991); Eric Lyons European Housing Award (1991); Commonwealth Association of Architects Award for Innovation and the Advancement of Contemporary Architecture (1994); Millennium Product Awards (2 in 1999); many RIBA Awards, and shortlisted four times for the RIBA Stirling Prize, and for the European Mies Van Der Rohe Architecture Award (2005).

Personal awards include: CBE (2000); French Académie d’Architecture Silver Medal for Innovation which has significantly influenced architectural expression (2000), becoming the first foreign architect to join a small but illustrious list including Jean Prouvé, Felix Candela, Frei Otto, Buckminster Fuller and Peter Rice; Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Westminster (2000). In 2010 Ritchie was awarded Honorary Fellowship of the American Institute of Architects.[9]

Lectures and Publications[edit]

He lectures internationally on art, urbanism, regeneration, light, structures, glass technology and innovation. Prestigious venues include The Pompidou Centre, Tate Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Society of Arts, RIBA, New York Architecture Centre, ICA, Hayward Gallery, European Commission and on behalf of the British Council, CABE, the Lord Chancellor, and the British Association of Science.

Further reading[edit]

Publications include:(well) Connected Architecture, Ian Ritchie, Berlin/London 1994; The biggest glass palace in the world, Ian Ritchie & Ingerid Helsing Almaas, New York 1997; Alessandro Rocca: Ian Ritchie, Technoecologia, Milano 1998; Plymouth Theatre Royal Production Centre, London 2003; The Spire, London 2004; The RSC Courtyard Theatre, London 2006; The Leipzig Book of Drawings, RA, London 2007.


  1. ^ "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2014. Mr Ian Ritchie, architect, 66 
  2. ^ "Interview Ian Ritchie". BDonline.co.uk, Amanda Baillieu. 28 November 2008. 
  3. ^ "408 years after The Globe, the Royal Shakespeare Company finds it's a pretty good template for its new theatres. What took them so long?". Gabion (Hugh Pearman). 18 June 2006. First published in The Sunday Times, 18 June 2006, as "RSC puts its house in order".  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ "Courting success James Fenton on sense and sensibility at the RSC". The Guardian. 3 February 2007. 
  5. ^ "Theatre as factory: Ian Ritchie's TR2 for the Theatre Royal in Plymouth". Gabion (Hugh Pearman). October 2003. 
  6. ^ "Mystic monument: Ian Ritchie's Spire of Dublin". Gabion (Hugh Pearman). February 2003. The complete version of the article published in The Sunday Times, 16 February 2003, as "So what's the point?").  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ "Ian Ritchie Architects, UK, Buildings, London". Glasgowarchitecture.co.uk. 
  8. ^ "RIAS Awards". Rias.org.uk. 2009. 
  9. ^ "The American Institute of Architects – 2010 AIA Honorary Fellows – Ian Ritchie, Hon. FAIA, Awards". Aia.org. 2010. 

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