Derek Walker

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This article is about the British architect. For the American football player, see Derek Walker (American football). For the New Zealand cricket player and umpire, see Derek Walker (cricketer).

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, it was here he met his first wife Jill Messenger.

From 1970 to 1976, Walker was Chief Architect and planner of the new town Milton Keynes,[1] and head of Architecture at Royal College of Art.[citation needed]

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 many buildings possibly the most celebrated was the Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre.[2][3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

Walker was the architect for the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, a £42.5million project which opened to the public in 1996.[6]

Academic Posts[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Derek Walker was born on the 15th June 1929 in Blackburn, Lancashire,[7] and grew up in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

Walker was married to the artist Jill Messenger, and had two sons.[8] He was married secondly and his third wife Eve Happold.[9]

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

Notable projects[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.


External links[edit]