Kevin Roche

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Kevin Roche

Kevin Roche krb.00028 (cropped).jpg
Eamonn Kevin Roche

(1922-06-14)June 14, 1922
DiedMarch 1, 2019(2019-03-01) (aged 96)
  • Irish
  • American
Alma mater
PracticeKevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates
WebsiteKevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates

Eamonn Kevin Roche FAIA (June 14, 1922 – March 1, 2019) was an Irish-born American Pritzker Prize-winning architect. He was responsible for the design/master planning for over 200 built projects in both the U.S. and abroad. These projects include eight museums, 38 corporate headquarters, seven research facilities, performing arts centers, theaters, and campus buildings for six universities. In 1967 he created the master plan for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and thereafter designed all of the new wings and installation of many collections including the reopened American[1] and Islamic wings.

Born in Dublin and a graduate from University College Dublin,[2] Roche went to the United States to study with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology. In the U.S., he became the principal designer for Eero Saarinen, and opened his own architectural firm in 1967.

Among other awards, Roche received the Pritzker in 1982,[3] the Gold Medal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1990, and the AIA Gold Medal in 1993.[4][5]


Born in Dublin, but raised in Mitchelstown, County Cork, Roche attended Rockwell College and graduated from University College Dublin in 1945. He then worked with Michael Scott from 1945 to 1946. From summer to fall of 1946, he worked with Maxwell Fry in London. In 1947, he applied for graduate studies at Harvard, Yale, and the Illinois Institute of Technology and was accepted at all three institutions, and left Ireland in 1948 to study under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Roche (right) with Eero Saarinen in the 1950s

In 1949, he worked at the planning office for the United Nations Headquarters building in New York City. In 1950, he joined the firm of Eero Saarinen and Associates.[6] His future partner, John Dinkeloo (1918-1991), joined the firm in 1951 and this was also where Roche met his wife Jane. In 1954, he became the Principal Design Associate to Saarinen and assisted him on all projects from that time until Saarinen's death in September 1961.

In 1966, Roche and Dinkeloo formed Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates and completed Saarinen's projects. They completed 12 major unfinished Saarinen builds, including some of Saarinen's best-known work: the Gateway Arch, the expressionistic TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport in New York City, Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC, the strictly modern John Deere Headquarters in Moline, Illinois, and the CBS Headquarters building in New York City.[7]

Following this, Roche and Dinkeloo's first major commission was the Oakland Museum of California, a complex for the art, natural history, and cultural history of California with a design featuring interrelated terraces and roof gardens.[8] The city was planning a monumental building to house natural history, technology, and art, and Roche provided a unique concept: a building that is a series of low-level concrete structures covering a four block area, on three levels, the terrace of each level forming the roof of the one below, i.e. a museum (in three sections) with a park on its roof. This kind of innovative solution went on to become Roche's trademark.

This project was followed by the equally highly acclaimed Ford Foundation Building in New York City, considered the first large-scale architectural building in the U.S. to devote a substantial portion of its space to horticultural pursuits. Its famous atrium was designed with the notion of having urban green-space accessible to all and is an early example of the application of environmental psychology in architecture. The building was recognized in 1968 by Architectural Record as "a new kind of urban space".[9]

The acclaim that greeted the Oakland Museum and Ford Foundation earned Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates a ranking at the top of their profession. Shortly afterward they began a 40-year association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, for which they did extensive remodeling and built many extensions to house new galleries including the one containing the Egyptian Temple of Dendur. Other high-profile commissions for the firm came from clients as varied as Wesleyan University, the United Nations, Cummins Engines, Union Carbide, The United States Post Office, and the Knights of Columbus.

In 1982, Kevin Roche became one of the first recipients of the Pritzker Prize, generally regarded as architecture's equivalent to the Nobel prize. Following this accolade, Roche's practice went global, receiving commissions for buildings in Paris, Madrid, Singapore, and Tokyo. He completed his first and only Irish project, The Convention Centre Dublin, in 2010.

Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates has designed numerous corporate headquarters, office buildings, banks, museums, art centers, and even part of the Bronx Zoo. Roche served as a trustee of the American Academy in Rome, president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a member of the National Academy of Design, and a member of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.[10]

Roche died on March 1, 2019, at his home in Guilford, Connecticut, aged 96.[11]

Prizes and awards[edit]

The work of Kevin Roche has been the subject of special exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Architectural Association of Ireland in Dublin, and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. A 2012 exhibition, Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment, opened at the Yale School of Architecture in New Haven, Connecticut, and has been viewed at The Museum of the City of New York, the Building Museum in Washington, and the University of Toronto.

In addition to the Pritzker Prize, Roche was the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal Award for Architecture, and the French Academie d'Architecture Grand Gold Medal.


A feature documentary called Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect was released in 2017. It was directed by Irish filmmaker (and former architecture student) Mark Noonan.


The Head Office for Bouygues SA Holding company received the “Haute Qualité Environnementale (HQE)” which is the highest certification for environmental quality in building design in France.
Headquarters for Santander Central Hispano located in Madrid, Spain.
New American Wing for Twentieth Century Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The continuous glass wall at Lucent Technologies in Nuremberg, Germany wraps around the complex to create a unified street facade.
Ford Foundation Headquarters
The DN Tower 21 in Tokyo, Japan.

Awards and honors[edit]

Roche was the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including:

Honorary Degrees:

Further reading[edit]

  • Currey, Mason. “Rediscovered Masterpiece: Ford Foundation”, Metropolis (December 2008), pp. 90–104
  • McMillan, Elizabeth. “Kevin Roche: Pritzker Prize Winner”, Veranda (October 2007), pp. 150–158, 241.
  • Lee, Sangleem. “Kevin Roche”, Space (July 2006); pp. 159–181.
Special magazine editions
  • Nakamura, Toshio. Kevin Roche, Architecture and Urbanism (A+U) Extra Edition, Tokyo, Japan: The Japan Architect Co. Ltd. Yoshio Yoshida, Publisher, 1987
  • Hozumi, Toshio et al. Latest Works of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates, Architecture & Urbanism, (A+U), No. 211, Tokyo, Japan: The Japan Architect Co., Ltd., April, 1988, No.211.
  • Hara, Hiroshi and Nobutaka Ashira. America's New Architectural Wave: The Architect Kevin Roche's Appearance on The Scene, SD Space Design No. 63, A Monthly Journal of Art & Architecture, Tokyo, Japan: January 1970.
  • Miller, Nory. Roche Dinkeloo, General Foods Headquarters, Texas Christian University Visual Arts Center, One Summit Square, Deere Financial Services Hdqrs., & Kevin Roche Interview Global Architecture, GA Document 9, A.D.A. EDITA Tokyo Co., Ltd., February 1984.
  • Futagawa, Yukio. Roche Dinkeloo, 6 High Rise Projects Deutsche Bank, J. P. Morgan, Design for Two Buildings in Denver, Dallas Competition, High Rise Study in Houston]. Global Architecture, GA Document 12. Tokyo, Japan: A.D.A. EDITA Tokyo Co., Ltd., January 1985.
  • Miller, Nory. Roche Dinkeloo Cummins Engine Company Corporate Office Building, Columbus Indiana & Conoco Inc. Petroleum Headquarters, Global Architecture, GA Document 14, editing and publishing by Yukio Futagawa, A.D.A. EDITA Tokyo Co., Ltd., photographs, RETORIA: Y. Futagawa & Associated Photographers, December 1985.
  • Futagawa, Yukio. Roche Dinkeloo, Bouygues Headquarters,Global Architecture, GA Document 22. Tokyo, Japan: A.D.A. EDITA Tokyo Co., Ltd., January 1989.


  1. ^ Cotter, Holland (January 15, 2012). "The Met Reimagines the American Story". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  2. ^ "In Memoriam Kevin Roche: 1922 - 2019". Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  3. ^ Goldberger, Paul (April 15, 1982). "Kevin Roche Wins Pritzker Prize in Architecture". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  4. ^ Ayoubi, Ayda (March 4, 2019). "AIA Gold Medalist Kevin Roche Dies at 96". Retrieved September 23, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Kevin Roche AIA Gold Medal Awarded In 1993". Retrieved September 23, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "An Irish starchitect: the iconic buildings that have made Kevin Roche's reputation". The Irish Times. April 9, 2011.
  7. ^ "Architecture Award to Kevin Roche". The New York Times. December 14, 1992. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  8. ^ "Museums". RocheDinkeloo. Retrieved October 11, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Barnett, Jonathan (February 1968). "Innovation and Symbolism on 42nd Street" (PDF). Architectural Record. pp. 105–112.
  10. ^ Luebke, Thomas, ed. (2013). Civic Art: A Centennial History of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. p. 553. ISBN 978-0-1608-9702-3. OCLC 768168746.
  11. ^ Goldberger, Paul (March 2, 2019). "Kevin Roche, Architect Who Melded Bold With Elegant, Dies at 96". The New York Times. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  12. ^ "K of C Headquarters Stands Tall for Half a Century". Columbia. August 2019. p. 7.
  13. ^ Goldberger, Paul (November 29, 1987). "Kevin Roche Finishes a Trio And Changes His Tune". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  14. ^ "Kevin Roche Honored For Redesign of Zoo". The New York Times. September 30, 1989. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  15. ^ Vogel, Carol (January 5, 2012). "Grand Galleries for National Treasures". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  16. ^ Yudell, Leslie (June 16, 2009). "Newsmakers: Kevin Roche and Morrison Heckscher". Architectural Record. Retrieved February 24, 2012.

External links[edit]