Derek Walker

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Derek Walker
Born(1929-06-15)June 15, 1929
Blackburn, Lancashire
DiedMay 11, 2015(2015-05-11) (aged 85)
Alma materLeeds Art School
Known forMilton Keynes Chief Architect
Notable work
Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds
  • Jill Messenger
  • Second wife (name unknown)
  • Eve Happold (2003-15)
ChildrenMatthew Walker, Alex Walker

Derek John Walker (15 June 1929 – 11 May 2015) was a British architect primarily associated with urban planning and leisure facilities architecture, through his firm Derek Walker Associates.


After completing his national service, Walker went on to study architecture at Leeds Art School; whilst there he met his first wife Jill Messenger. He then studied planning at the University of Pennsylvania before returning to the UK in 1960 to set up an architectural practice in Leeds.[1]

From 1970 to 1976 Walker was Chief Architect and planner of the new town Milton Keynes.[2] He recruited a team and over seven years produced a landscaping strategy for the 'new city', eleven village plans, the structure for the programme for producing 3000 houses per year with supporting community, leisure, retail and sporting and cultural facilities.

Amongst his many buildings, possibly the most celebrated was the Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre.[3][4] At the time of its opening in 1979 it was a unique concept for 1,000,000 sq ft (93,000 m2) of retail space with a plan generated around covered landscaped streets. The team for this complex included Stuart Mosscrop, Christopher Woodward and Syd Green.[5] In July 2010, the building was recognised with a Grade II listing, to applause from the 20th Century Society and other conservationists.[6]

In 1980 Walker was involved with Norman Foster and Frank Newby in a controversial scheme to expand the Whitney Museum in New York City using air rights purchased from nearby properties to build a mixed-use skyscraper which would include a new wing for the museum. When a furore developed, the museum denied it had solicited the team.[7]

He ran the architecture course at the Royal College of Art between 1984 and 1990.[1]

Walker was the architect for the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, a GB£42.5million project which opened to the public in 1996.[8]

Academic Posts[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Walker was born on 15 June 1929 in Blackburn, Lancashire,[9] however he and his family moved to Leeds in West Yorkshire when he was very young.

He was first married to the artist Jill Messenger; they had two sons.[10] He was married secondly and his third wife was Eve Happold.[11]

Walker was a lifelong sports fanatic with a passion for cricket, and was a supporter of Leeds United FC.[citation needed]

Notable projects[edit]

Derek Walker Associates[edit]

Milton Keynes Development Corporation[edit]


  • The Great Engineers: The Art of British Engineers 1837–1987. ISBN 0-85670-917-4.
  • Happold: The Confidence to Build. ISBN 0-419-24060-8.
  • Animated Architecture.
  • Derek Walker Associates "'The View from Great Linford' Monograph" ISBN 978-1-85490-282-5
  • 'Los Angeles Profile Architectural Design Magazine with USC 1982"
  • Structural Engineering Design in Practice. With Roger Westbrook.
  • The Royal Armouries The Making of a Museum. With Guy Wilson ISBN 0-948092-26-2.
  • New Towns (Architectural Design, No 111). With Maggie Toy.
  • AD Milton keynes 1.2.3 Volumes Profiles Architectural Magazine 1973-4-5.
  • The Architecture and Planning of Milton Keynes.


  1. ^ a b "Derek Walker obituary". The Guardian. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  2. ^ "Derek Walker: Milton Keynes - The Art of Illusion". MK Gallery. 5 May 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buckinghamshire, 2nd edition, Penguin Books (Buildings of England), 1994, ISBN 0-14-071062-0, page 494.
  4. ^ a b Milton Keynes shopping centre becomes Grade II listed – The Guardian, 16 July 2010
  5. ^ Early housing in Milton Keynes Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre
  6. ^ Milton Keynes shopping centre becomes Grade II listed – The Guardian, 16 July 2010
  7. ^ The Whitney Museum repulses Norman Foster's first assault on New York, 1980. Archived 5 November 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b "THE MUSEUM IN LEEDS". Royal Armouries. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  9. ^ "DEREK WALKER: Former Chief Architect and Planning Officer for Milton Keynes has passed away". MK Web. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Derek Walker: Architect whose greatest achievement was serving as the chief designer of Milton Keynes, the 'Forest City'". The Independent.
  11. ^ Financial Times (13 May 2015). "Architect of Milton Keynes who blended utopia and nostalgia". Euro 2day. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  12. ^ "Newton Garth, new housing". Leodis. Retrieved 8 August 2015.

External links[edit]