June 14, 1922 – March 1, 2019
Kevin Roche was an Irish-born American Pritzker Prize-winning architect. He has been 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 henceforth designed all of the new wings and installation of many collections including the recently reopened American and Islamic wings.
Among other awards, Roche received the Pritzker Prize in 1982, the Gold Medal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1990, and the AIA Gold Medal in 1993.
In 2012, Roche was inducted into Irish America magazine’s Hall of Fame.
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 1945-46. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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 USA 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”.
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 afterwards they began a 40-year association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, for whom they did extensive remodelling 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.
Roche died on March 1, 2019 at his home in Guilford, Connecticut, aged 96.
Prizes and awards
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 and at the Building Museum in Washington, and the University of Toronto.
In addition to the Pritzker Prize, Roche was the recipient of numerous honours 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 is directed by Irish filmmaker (and ex-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.
Unlike conventional New York office buildings which isolate the occupants, the Ford Foundation Headquarters creates an environment of openness and fosters a sense of working family.
The DN Tower 21 in Tokyo, Japan.
1966 – Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA
1968 – The Ford Foundation, New York, NY
1969 – Administration, Student Union & Physical Education Buildings, RIT, Rochester, NY
1969 – The Knights of Columbus Building Headquarters, New Haven, CT
1969 – United States Post Office, Columbus, IN
1969 – Aetna Life and Casualty Company Computer Headquarters, Hartford, CT
1971 – Power Center for the Performing Arts, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
1973 – Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
1974 – Fine Arts Center, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA
1974 – The Pyramids (Indianapolis) College Life Insurance Company of America Headquarters, Indianapolis, IN
1978 – John Deere World Headquarters West Office Building, Moline, IL
1979 – Denver Performing Arts Complex, Denver, CO
1982 – The Corporate Center, Danbury, CT
1982 – Moudy Visual Arts and Communication Building, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX
1983 – 2 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY
1983 – General Foods Corporate Headquarters, Ryebrook, NY
1985 – Cummins Engine Company Corporate Headquarters, Columbus, IN
1985 – DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Williamsburg, VA
1986 – Conoco Inc. Petroleum Headquarters, Houston, TX
1988 – Central Park Zoo, New York, NY
1988 – Bouygues World Headquarters, Saint-Quentin-Yvelines, France
1989 – Leo Burnett Building Company Headquarters, Chicago, IL
1990 – 750 7th Avenue, New York, NY
1990 – Metropolitano Office Building, Madrid, Spain
1992 – J.P. Morgan Headquarters, New York, NY
1993 – Corning Incorporated Corporate Headquarters, Corning, NY
1993 – Merck & Co. Inc. Headquarters, Whitehouse Station, NJ
1993 – NationsBank Building (now Bank of America Plaza), Atlanta, GA
1993 – Borland International Corporate Headquarters, Scotts Valley, CA
1993 – Tanjong and Binariang Headquarters/Menara Maxis, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1994 – Pontiac Marina Millenia Tower and Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Singapore
1995 – Dai-ichi Life Headquarters/ Norinchukin Bank Headquarters, DN Tower 21, Tokyo, Japan
1997 – Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
1997 – Shiodome City Center, Tokyo, Japan
1997 – Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for University Life/ Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, New York University, New York, NY
1997 – Lucent Technologies, Lisle, IL/Naperville, IL
1997 – Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York, NY
2000 – Ciudad Grupo Santander, Madrid, Spain
2001 – Securities and Exchange Commission Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
2002 – Bouygues SA Holding Company Headquarters, Paris, France
2003 – 1101 New York Avenue, Washington, D.C.
2003 – Renovation to Greek and Roman Court at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
2005 – Lafayette Tower, Washington, D.C.
2007 – Renovation to American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY
2008 – Renovation to American Wing at Metropolitan Museum of Art
2009 – David S. Ingalls Rink Restoration and Addition, Yale University, New Haven, CT
2010 – Convention Centre Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
2011 – Renovation to Islamic Wing at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Awards and honors
Mr. Roche has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the following:
American Institute of Architects – AIA Gold Medal
American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medals – Gold Medal Award for Architecture
Academie d’Architecture – Grand Gold Medal
Total Design Award, American Society of Interior Designers
Medal of Honor, New York Chapter of the AIA
American Institute of Architects Twenty-five Year Award
Classical America’s Arthur Ross Award
The Brendan Gill Prize of the Municipal Art Society of New York
R. S. Reynolds Memorial Award
New York State Award
California Governor’s Award for Excellence in Design
Albert S. Bard First Honor Awards, City Club of New York
Brandeis University Creative Arts Award in Architecture
Brunner Award of the American Institute of Art and Letters
New York Chapter American Institute of Architects Award
Wesleyan University, Doctorate of Fine Arts
National University of Ireland, Doctorate of Fine Arts
Albertus Magnus College, Doctorate of Fine Arts
Iona College, Doctorate of Fine Arts
Yale University, Doctorate of Fine Arts
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.
COTTER, HOLLAND (January 15, 2012). “The Met Reimagines the American Story”. Art Review. New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
Goldberger, Paul (April 15, 1982). “Kevin Roche Wins PRITZKER PRIZE in Architecture”. Times Article. New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
Langan, Sheila. “Kevin Roche Visionary Architect”[permanent dead link], “Irish America magazine”, March 14, 2012; accessed March 21, 2012.
“An Irish starchitect: the iconic buildings that have made Kevin Roche’s reputation”, The Irish Times, April 9, 2011.
unknown, unknown (December 14, 1992). “Architecture Award to Kevin Roche”. December 14, 1992. New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
“RocheDinkeloo – Museums”. www.krjda.com. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
Thomas E. Luebke, ed., Civic Art: A Centennial History of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, 2013): Appendix B, p. 553.
“Kevin Roche, Architect Who Melded Bold With Elegant, Dies at 96”. The New York Times. March 2, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
GOLDBERGER, PAUL (November 29, 1987). “ARCHITECTURE VIEW; Kevin Roche Finishes a Trio And Changes His Tune”. New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
unknown, unknown (September 30, 1989). “Kevin Roche Honored For Redesign of Zoo”. September 30, 1989. New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
VOGEL, CAROL (January 5, 2012). “Advertise on NYTimes.com Grand Galleries for National Treasures”. Times Article. New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
Yudell, Leslie. “Leslie Yudell”. Architectural Record. Retrieved 24 February 2012.