Rafael Viñoly (1944 – 2023)

Rafael Vinoly

Rafael Viñoly, the world-renowned Uruguayan architect who designed buildings including London’s so-called Walkie Talkie, has died aged 78.

Viñoly’s death was announced by his son, Román, who described him as a “visionary” who leaves “a rich legacy of distinctive and timeless designs”.

He established Rafael Viñoly Architects in 1983 and his work features in more than 600 structures around the world.

He died in hospital, reportedly from an aneurysm, in New York City on Thursday.

Román Viñoly said his father’s designs “manifested in some of the world’s most recognisable” structures and that he would be missed “by all those whose lives he touched through his work”.

Born in Montevideo in 1944, Viñoly moved to Buenos Aires at the age of five with his mother, a maths teacher, and theatre director father.

He studied architecture at the University of Buenos Aires and while he was still a student, was a founding member in the successful firm Estudio de Arquitectura.

The military junta in Argentina prompted him and his family to emigrate to the United States. He secured a teaching position at Harvard University before establishing his eponymous practice in New York.

The skyscraper at 20 Fenchurch Street is known as the Walkie Talkie due to its apparent likeness to the communication device
His designs spanned office and residential buildings, hotels, concert halls, stadiums and airports across the world.

The “Walkie Talkie” skyscraper attracted controversy in 2013 when sunlight reflected off its mirrored concave side and melted various parts on a luxury car parked nearby.

Viñoly also faced complaints from residents in 432 Park Avenue, a residential building he designed in New York, who reported banging and creaking noises coming from the 85-floor tower.

The Tokyo International Forum, the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts in Philadelphia and the Cleveland Museum of Art are among the other landmark projects completed by his firm.

And Manchester City Football Club – whose training ground Viñoly designed – paid tribute to their “cherished friend”.

Jay Bargmann, the vice president of Rafael Viñoly Architects said: “I’m incredibly proud of the integrity of the work our team has produced over many decades and on very complex projects, and I am honoured and humbled by our team’s unwavering commitment during this profound time of loss.”

Viñoly is survived by his wife, Diana, an interior designer, his son, Román, and stepsons Nicolás and Lucas.

By Marita Moloney
BBC News