RIBA Honorary Fellowships

Honorary Fellowships 2012

14 RIBA Honorary Fellowships were presented in London in February 2012 by RIBA President Angela Brady on the occasion of the presentation of the Royal Gold Medal to Herman Hertzberger. These Fellowships are awarded to men and women who are not architects, but have contributed greatly to architecture.

Honorary Fellowships presentation




The RIBA's 2012 Honorary Fellowships were awarded to:

Nicole Crockett|

Robert Elwall|

Adrian Forty|

Malcolm Hankey|

Boris Johnson|

Doug King|

Fiona MacCarthy|

Frank McDonald|

Sandra O'Connell|

Peter Rees|

Peter Salter|

Richard Simmons|

Chris Smith|

Ai Weiwei|

Nicole Crockett

Nicole Crockett, Director of Building Exploratory, was nominated for her contribution to architecture.

Nicole is Chief Executive of the Building Exploratory where she provides strategic leadership to a team devising innovative education and lifelong learning opportunities for thousands of school children and hard to reach adults across East London. Her key motivation is to see more people involved in shaping their local area. Special projects bring communities, artists and built environment professionals together to explore buildings and public spaces creatively and take journeys of discovery into the design, development and transformation of some of London's best-loved places.

Throughout her career she has maintained a commitment to architecture, raising its profile among the wider population and promoting an agenda of inclusiveness. Nicole is a proven leader of partnerships across the field of the built environment, with an established track record in project development, project management and stakeholder engagement.

The daughter of an architect, she gained a place to study architecture at Edinburgh University, but her interest in social development and inclusion won out and she studied for an MA and then a PhD in Sociology. However, architecture kept drawing her back and she took a job as an Assistant Architecture Officer at Arts Council England when it was nurturing architecture and promoting the engagement of people with the design process. She then moved on to become Assistant Director of the Architecture Foundation for a four-year period. This allowed her to develop her ambition to see communities care for and inform change in the built environment. The desire to see architecture build its profile in a wider arts context led to a key role at the Architecture Centre Network, which she chaired for three years between 2007 and 2009.

She is currently a member of the Civic Trust Awards National Panel, having joined in December 2009 with a specific remit to assess education projects and comment on the effectiveness of community involvement across entries.

Nicole is a trustee at the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College where she helped to oversee the creation of Discover Greenwich, an interactive visitor experience, which opened in 2010. She also sits on the Greenwich Foundation's education sub-committee advising on learning programmes.

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© Building Exploratory 

Robert Elwall


Robert Elwall, Photographs Curator of the British Architectural Library, RIBA, was nominated for his contribution to architecture.

Robert has been championing architectural photography for over 30 years. During his distinguished career as curator, author, critic, conservation advocate and lecturer, he has built at RIBA the largest collection of architectural photography in the world – over 1.5 million images. Later he created a digital image database to disseminate its contents.

He has curated dozens of ground-breaking exhibitions exploring the relationship between architecture, photography and society in libraries, museums and galleries both in London and beyond. His exhibition with Valeria Carullo on photography and the architecture of Italian Modernism was the first British exhibition to be shown at Zaha Hadid's MAXXI Museum in Rome, in the Spring of 2010.

The author of a dozen monographs, Robert earned his reputation as an international authority in the field of architectural photography when his book Building With Light: the International History of Architectural Photography (2004) was nominated for the 2005 Bruno Zevi Book Award by the UIA's International Committee of Architectural Critics (CICA). It was also listed as one of 'Books of the Decade' in the influential magazine Wallpaper. His most recent monograph, Evocations of Place: the Photography of Edwin Smith (2007) was shortlisted for the British Book Design Awards in 2007. Robert has tirelessly contributed hundreds of articles, columns, reviews and, above all, little-known images to architectural press and popular and digital media.

Robert has constantly striven to bring architectural photography to public attention and at the same time to explicate and illuminate its importance as a powerful - if often undervalued - means of architectural and cultural expression. In his talks to community groups, amenity societies, conservationists, architects and students, he has emphasised the significant contribution that architectural photography has made to the profession as an art form and as a means of enhancing of our sense of place and, not least, our collective cultural memory.

Robert is widely respected for his work in stimulating awareness of the value and the uses of architectural photography, in rescuing countless photographic archives at risk, in using his expertise to advocate better conservation and protection of buildings and in sharing both his knowledge of and passion for photography with the widest possible audience.

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© Gaby Higgs 

Adrian Forty


Adrian Forty, Professor of Architectural History, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL was nominated for his contribution to architectural education.

Adrian is an ispirational teacher. He is Professor of Architectural History at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, where he has taught since 1973. After studying History at Oxford University and Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, his career as an architectural historian began as the assistant to Reyner Banham at UCL. In 1980 with Mark Swenarton, he started England's first Master's programme in Architectural History, one which he still directs. Since its inauguration more than 300 students have graduated from the programme, many of whom have gone on to become leading figures in their field. The course has made a major impact on the discipline of architectural history, not least because Adrian has steered the understanding of architecture and its history in a more sociological direction.

He is also the Year 1 BSc History and Theory Coordinator, a course he has run since the early 1990s and refined so that it provides a general introduction to the history of architecture and cities for all first-year students. Keen that students should get away from the classroom, he sets assignments that required them to investigate a wide range of buildings and art collections around London.

As a result of his innovative approach to teaching he won the Sir Misha Black Award for Innovation in Design Education in 2003. He was on the editorial board of the Journal of Architecture from 1995 to 2001, he has sat on the RIBA Research Awards Committee since 2000 and has been a trustee of the Sir Banister Fletcher Trust since 2004.

In his own scholarship his subjects are diverse, covering the architecture of Brazil, concrete, Fretton, memory, the primitive and Pevsner.

His book Words and Buildings: A Vocabulary of Modern Architecture has been that rare thing for a generation of students, an inspirational and entertaining primer. His new book on concrete as a global medium of culture, Concrete and Culture, is published in April 2012.

He has been an active critic of contemporary architecture, and has done much to promote theoretically-informed work in architectural history. He is currently the President of the European Architectural History Network.

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© Francesca Forty 

Malcolm Hankey


Malcolm Hankey, Civic Trust Awards, was nominated for his contribution to architecture.

Malcolm has a long standing passion for architecture and believes strongly in the ethos of the Civic Trust Awards and its role in promoting excellence in design standards. The Civic Trust Awards together with RIBA members and their co-professionals have worked hand in hand over the last 52 years to deliver one of the longest-standing architectural and environment awards schemes in Europe and one that is robust, highly respected and vital to promoting the industry.

The Civic Trust Awards recognise the best in architecture and urban design, planning, landscape, public realm and public art. Awards are given to projects that demonstrate the highest standards of design, offer high sustainability and inclusive design credentials, while bringing a positive social, cultural, environmental or economic benefit to the local community. He believes that promoting excellent examples of inclusive architecture and design is vital to economic growth.

In 2009 The Civic Trust, as the parent charity, went into administration and Malcolm was instrumental in rescuing the Civic Trust Awards, going on to negotiate the release of the schemes intellectual property rights and 50-year archive. His intervention ensured the continuation of Civic Trust Awards, which still operates a not-for-profit basis, with the support of hundreds of volunteer assessors from across the UK and Ireland.

Between 2007 and 2009 he was Built Environment Manager with Civic Trust Liverpool, with responsibility for the delivery of the Civic Trust Awards scheme, thereby fulfilling a long-held ambition to be involved in architecture. He gained the support of organisations such as CABE Space, the Homes and Communities Agency, RTPI and the Arts Council, and established close working relationships with the RIBA.

Malcolm is qualified as a Civil Engineer and has a degree in Law. Prior to 2007 he was Programme Manager with Civic Trust Liverpool, with responsibility for ensuring the delivery of the Green Flag Award scheme for parks and green spaces, on behalf of Communities and Local Government (CLG).

He has worked as an engineer with the National Rivers Authority and for the Environment Agency, involved in flood and coastal defence in the North West. He is a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (MICE) and an Incorporated Engineer with the Engineering Council (IEng).

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© Civic Trust Awards 

Boris Johnson


Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, was nominated for his contribution to politics.

Boris Johnson has been a consistent champion of high-quality architecture in London and in particular of the way in which Londoners should be housed. Through the Greater London Authority he has introduced clear guidance to improve the design standards of new developments to ensure that homes have the space that people need to live happy, healthy lives.

Despite the urgent need to build many more homes in very difficult economic times, Boris Johnson has taken a clear stand on not compromising on quality. He has actively supported the RIBA's HomeWise campaign, which will get households, architects, builders and policy makers involved in a conversation about how to deliver homes that meet – or exceed – what people need.

Under the government's Localism Bill the Mayor will have additional housing powers, taking responsibility for London's share of national housing budgets and for a portfolio of land and property assets. This will involve setting up the London Housing Board to execute those powers.

Boris Johnson has taken a number of initiatives to improve the built environment in London, making it a better place for both Londoners and visitors. These include:

  • the one kilometre long floating river walk along the north bank of the River Thames in time for summer 2012 designed by Gensler
  • the creation of a £50 million fund to boost regeneration and rejuvenate town centres at the heart of local London communities
  • the launch of the Mayor's Great Spaces initiative - an ambitious programme for improving public spaces, with awards for the best schemes put forward by London boroughs.

Boris Johnson was born in June 1964 in New York and moved to London when he was five years old. He describes himself as a 'one man melting-pot', with French, Turks and Germans among his ancestors.

Much though he envies and admires the City of London, he lasted just one week as a management consultant before becoming a trainee reporter for The Times, subsequently working on The Wolverhampton Express and Star and The Daily Telegraph, where he rose to become assistant editor. His association with The Spectator lasted from 1994 until 2005, and included six years as its editor.

He has also published a number of works of fiction and non-fiction and appears regularly on television.

In 2001 he replaced Michael Heseltine as MP for Henley on Thames and has held shadow government posts as Vice Chairman of the party and Shadow Minister for the Arts and for Higher Education, a post from which he resigned so he could stand as Conservative candidate for Mayor of London. He resigned as MP for Henley shortly after becoming Mayor of London in May 2008.

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© City Hall 

Doug King

Doug King, environmental engineer, was nominated for his contribution to engineering.

While working with Buro Happold between 1998 and 2002 Doug teamed up with a like-minded structural engineer and they left Buro Happold in order to develop a truly integrated team, King Shaw Associates, dedicated to the practice of what they term engineering design practice, practicing what he calls 'building engineering physics'. As a short-hand this is recognisable as building services integrated with structure, but that does not fully capture they way in which he has fused together the different aspects of engineering.

Graduating as a physicist in 1990, Doug King became a building services engineer out of curiosity; he saw buildings as complex networks of inter-dependent systems that were a challenge to understand. His first position was with environmental engineering practice Max Fordham & Partners where he learned his craft and developed a taste for inter-disciplinary engineering design.

Doug has contributed to a number of ground-breaking sustainable buildings, including two Stirling shortlisted schemes: Cullinan's Weald and Downland Gridshell and Chetwood Associates Sainsbury's Greenwich Supermarket, for which he developed the idea of the naturally lit and ventilated, earth-bermed building that Building magazine described as the most significant in the history of retailing.

He also worked on the RIBA Award-winning Rolls Royce Factory at Goodwood by Grimshaw; Behnisch's RIBA International Award-winning Genzyme Centre in Cambridge MA, until recently the largest LEED Platinum building in the world, and the Innovate Green Office, the building that paved the way for the BREEAM Outstanding designation. A Chartered Physicist and Chartered Environmentalist as well as a Chartered Engineer, he brings a scientific approach and environmental sensitivity to the engineering of buildings.

Doug's enthusiasm and drive to share his ideas led to his invitation to become a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Building Physics at the University of Bath. He also writes on environmental issues in construction, is a member of the RIBA Validation Panel, an advisor to The Ove Arup Foundation and a member of the South West Design Review Panel. He was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal in 2011 for an outstanding personal contribution to British engineering.

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© Alex King 

Fiona MacCarthy

Fiona MacCarthy, writer, was nominated for her contribution to architecture and the media.

Fiona MacCarthy is a British biographer and cultural historian best known for her studies of 19th and 20th century arts, crafts and design. She writes with exemplary insight on the place of architecture in our culture as a whole.

Her arts essays, reviews and columns have appeared regularly in The Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement and The New York Review of Books. She contributes frequently to TV and radio arts programmes. However, she is most respected for her authoritative yet racy biographies of a number of key 19th and 20th century artists and designers, including Byron, Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, Charles Robert Ashbee, Eric Gill, Stanley Spencer.

Her latest subject is architect Walter Gropius, who she met when he came to London for the Bauhaus exhibition in 1968.

As well as writing about architecture she has been involved in commissioning new buildings. She and her late husband, the designer David Mellor, commissioned the RIBA Award-winning cutlery factory, The Round Building at Hathersage in Derbyshire, for their friend Sir Michael Hopkins. Fiona contributed much to the design studio, the factory and retail operations of the firm. Michael and Patty Hopkins are just completing a 'writer's house' for Fiona in a rural site in the Peak National Park.

MacCarthy was brought up in London. She was educated at Wycombe Abbey School and took a degree in English Literature at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She is the newly installed President of the Twentieth Century Society, the organisation concerned with the preservation and promotion of the best examples of 20th century architecture. As only the fifth President of the Society she is in a small distinguished company including Sir Osbert Lancaster, Margaret Richardson and Trevor Dannatt. She is also a Vice-President of the Victorian Society.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (1997), an Honorary Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art. She holds the RSA Bicentenary medal for services to art and design. MacCarthy was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours.

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© Eamonn McCabe 

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald, Environment Editor, The Irish Times, was nominated for his contribution to architecture and the media.

A watchdog for architecture and a whistleblower on poor development, Frank McDonald was born in Dublin in 1950 and lived until recently in Temple Bar, an area of the city that he helped to save. Frank was one of those who protested about the destruction of Georgian Dublin in the late 1960s and 1970s and he remains an outspoken critic of unsympathetic redevelopment. He is a vociferous supporter of good architecture, as well as a professional worrier about the environment.

He is Environment Editor of The Irish Times, author of several books including The Destruction of Dublin (1985), Saving the City (1989) and The Construction of Dublin (2000) and joint author with Peiín Doyle of Ireland's Earthen Houses (1997), with James Nix of Chaos at the Crossroads (2005), which documented the environmental destruction of Ireland during the boom years, and with Kathy Sheridan of The Builders (2008), which took a critical look at the developers involved in the so-called Celtic Tiger's casino culture.

Frank is first and foremost a newspaper man: he is always on the look-out for wrong-doing (often in the shape of brown envelopes) and knows how to use his talents to lead public opinion in order to help to put things right. He has reported on UN climate change conferences since 1995, including Copenhagen, Cancún and Durban. He won the Outstanding Work in Irish Journalism award in 1979 for a series of articles in The Irish Times entitled Dublin: What went wrong, as well as the Lord Mayor's Millennium Medal (1988) for highlighting good contemporary architecture in the city, the Chartered Institute of Transport Journalist of the Year (1998), two ESB National Media Awards (1999 and 2003), a Lord Mayor's Award (2003) and the Green Leader Award (2008). He is an articulate regular contributor to radio and television programmes.

Conferred an Honorary DPhil by Dublin Institute of Technology in 2006, he was made an honorary member of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland in 2010. He was also made a Press Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge, in 2008. He was a keynote speaker at the RIBA International Conference when it was held in Dublin in 2005.

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© The Irish Times 

Sandra O'Connell

Dr Sandra O'Connell, architectural writer, editor and curator, and organiser, Dublin Open House, was nominated by Angela Brady for her contribution to architecture. 

Born in Ulm, Germany, and educated at Trinity College Dublin, Sandra O'Connell is an architectural writer, editor and curator. She lives with her family in Dublin, Ireland and contributes in many ways to architecture and its importance to all our lives – a topic that she feels passionate about.

Since 2002 Sandra has been editor of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) Architecture Ireland, a journal committed to excellence in Irish architectural practice and thought. In challenging times for the profession, the priority is to maintain the journal's relevance and topicality, as well as its leadership and quality standards.

In 2005 Sandra devised a new consumer magazine for the RIAI, which she edited until 2008. HOUSE architecture design, aimed towards a public audience and in particular that with an interest in the residential property, to communicate the value of architecture and using an architect.

Inspired by Open House London, Sandra was founding curator of the first Open House Dublin event, which she continues to run on an annual basis for the Irish Architecture Foundation. She has made Open House Dublin Ireland's largest and most popular architectural event. Responding to topical issues concerning society and the built environment, the 2011 theme, The Architecture of Change, explored how architecture can be a positive catalyst for change in society.

Sandra regularly writes on Irish architecture and Modernism in particular, two interests close to her heart, and contributes to national and international conferences. She is editor of the RIAI's Annual Review, Irish Architecture 2011/12, a comprehensive edition of award-winning projects drawn from the RIAI's prestigious Irish Architecture Awards.

Sandra is a board member of darc space (Dublin Architecture Space), the opening of which in 2009 coincided with the Open House Weekend. It is the only dedicated architecture gallery in the Republic of Ireland and aims to promote innovative energy-efficient and sustainable architecture.

Sandra curates a popular monthly architectural talk series Thursday Lunch at the gallery. She also co-curated in 2010 Slow Architecture and Place, a boat-based exhibition travelling on the Grand Canal from County Offaly to Dublin, exploring alternative approaches to art, architecture and the built environment.

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© Eugene Langan 

Peter Rees

Peter Rees, Chief Planning Officer, City of London, was nominated for his services to planning and architecture.

As Chief Planning Officer of the City of London, Peter's enthusiasm for his very special patch, the Square Mile, is palpable and derives from childhood visits to stay with an aunt. He studied architecture and planning at London's Polytechnic of the South Bank and his first Polytechnic assignment in 1968 involved sorting out Paternoster Square, something he had to do for real in his later professional life.

 He has seen it as a crucial part of his custody of the City, not only to ensure that business does not abandon it for Docklands or Frankfurt, but that it does not die by night or at weekends. For that reason he championed Jean Nouvel's One New Change Scheme (longlisted for the 2011 Stirling Prize), which has not only added significantly to the City's retail offer, but also to its cultural one, with regular rooftop concerts with unrivalled views of St Paul's as their backdrop.

Born in Swansea, Peter studied at University College London and the Welsh School of Architecture, as well as at the Polytechnic. He qualified as an architect-planner although he has never worked as an architect. His planning career has spanned periods with the Historic Buildings Division of the Greater London Council, private practice with Gordon Cullen, a spell at the Department of the Environment, and another as Assistant Chief Planning Officer to the London Borough of Lambeth.

Peter joined the City of London Corporation in 1985. He directs the Department of Planning & Transportation, where his responsibilities include supervising the preparation and approval of planning policies for the City and negotiating with developers on major planning applications.

He lectures at universities and conferences throughout the world, and has been involved in postgraduate project review at Yale and presentations to World Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and the World Architecture Congress. He makes frequent media appearances covering a wide range of planning and urban design topics. A founder member and Director of the British Council for Offices since 1990, Peter received their 2003 President's Award for, 'presiding over one of the most extensive periods of redevelopment in the City’s long history'.

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© City of London 

Peter Salter

Peter Salter, teacher and designer, was nominated for his services to architectural education.

Peter Salter is one of the most influential architectural teachers of the past 30 years. He talks, writes and draws with equal facility: he is a superb draftsman. A past employee of Alison and Peter Smithson, his teaching built directly on their legacy, leading another generation of students to appreciate the poetic capacities of construction. Architects such as Caruso St John and Sauerbruch Hutton have spoken of his formative influence on their way of working.

Peter is currently Professor of Architectural Design at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff where he was appointed in 2006. Peter's teaching career began in the 1980s when he joined the AA School of Architecture as a technical tutor in the diploma school. Here he coordinated the teaching of architecture technology and led design teaching units at intermediate and diploma levels to develop a rigorous diploma course.

In 1995 he was appointed successor to Ron Herron (a member of the Royal Gold Medal-winning team Archigram) as Head of School and Professor of Architecture at the University of East London. His focus here was to develop a school with a specialism in exploring architecture through construction, with an emphasis on materials, as a way of engaging with issues of sustainability and low-energy construction.

In 2004 Salter won the Royal Institute of British Architects Annie Spink award for his outstanding contribution to architectural education. This prize was awarded jointly with Wolf Prix.

Peter Salter is also one of the great lost architects of this country. He set up private practice in 1982. His work as a designer has focused on cultural, residential and leisure projects, including several projects in Japan.

In the 1980s, with fellow AA teacher Christopher Macdonald, he produced a series of speculative projects that remain unbuilt. The projects are well known for their highly developed and evocative drawings, which are concerned with qualities of construction and spatial atmosphere.

In 1990 Macdonald and Salter designed a temporary building, a folly, for the International Garden and Greenery Exposition in Osaka. He is currently involved in a project for four houses in Notting Hill for Baylight Properties, which is run by one of Peter’s former students Crispin Kelly.

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© Sandra Morris 

Richard Simmons

Richard Simmons, CEO, CABE, 2004 - 2011, was nominated for his services to architecture and planning.

Planner Richard Simmons was Chief Executive of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), the government's adviser on architecture, urban design and public space from June 2004 until its merger with the Design Council in 2011. He is currently Visiting Professor of City Design and Regeneration in the School of Architecture and Construction, at the University of Greenwich. He is also an independent consultant and educator in urban design, planning, regeneration and public space.

As head of CABE, Richard was determined that the organisation should be the government's watchdog, not its lapdog when it came to architecture. A previous local authority and Whitehall man, he had plenty of knowledge of that side of the planning equation, but he has a wealth of experience too as the developer's champion through his regeneration work in Kent and the east end of London.

Richard was a consistent advocate of the public and commercial value of good design, of using architects to produce high-quality buildings and places, and of sustainable and inclusive design. Richard played a key role in CABE's contribution to the design of London 2012, and in conceiving and implementing the merger with the Design Council.

In the early days of the coalition government, when quango-hunting was rife, Richard fought hard to retain the all-important design review functions of CABE.

Prior to running CABE Richard was director of development and environment at Medway District Council, where he helped  to develop the vision for Thames Gateway. Previously, he was chief executive of Dalston City Challenge, leading the regeneration of the Hoxton artists' quarter, the Geffrye Museum extension, the renewal of the Holly Street estate and the building of Hackney Community College.

Richard has also worked for the London Docklands Development Corporation and in the inner cities directorate at the Department of Environment.

Educated first in Cheshire, he studied Economic History at the University of Sheffield and did research in town planning. Richard comes close to holding the record for persistence in completing a PhD, having received his doctorate in urban history and economics 25 years after he started it. He has since discovered an easier way to be so honoured: in 2010 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Oxford Brookes University in Town Planning, Regeneration and Urban Design.

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© Greg Simmons 

Chris Smith

Chris Smith, English Heritage National Planning Director, was nominated for his services to heritage.

As National Planning Director for English Heritage (EH), Chris oversees the work of all of EH's expert statutory advisors in the planning and development field and co-ordinates the work of the Urban Panel (run by EH with DCCabe), which undertakes senior multi-disciplinary peer group reviews of major urban issues. As one of the bodies that survived the coalition's bonfire of quangos in 2010, the organisation will continue to advise the government on the National Planning Policy Framework that will replace all Planning Policy Statements and Planning Policy Guidance and is part of Chris's remit to ensure that the historic environment does not suffer as a result of changes.

While studying for a degree in Swedish literature at the University of East Anglia in Norwich – in one of Denys Lasdun's masterpieces – his eyes were opened to the richness of Britain's past as exemplified by a fine mediaeval city. Urban conservation and archaeology were taking great steps forwards as professions at that time and he decided to dedicate his life to those disciplines.

Chris has been an historic environment management professional since 1974. He first worked for local authorities in the north east and south west of England. He spent six years with a Community Development Trust in the post-heavy industrial Stroud Valleys. In his spare time he chaired the Association of Conservation Officers as it achieved formal recognition as the Institute of Historic Building Conservation. For this voluntary work he was awarded the OBE.

Joining English Heritage in 1994 Chris spent some years in the south west, first as Historic Areas Advisor, then as Assistant Regional Director. A period as Regional Director West Midlands was followed by being appointed Territory Director West, a post that he held until 2010 when he became the National Planning Director.

He has always aimed to make a positive contribution to the debate about how the historic environment can be re-used for the benefit of society through close engagement with the architectural profession.

He has always strongly promoted the view that great design depends on a profound understanding of context, without which there can be no meaningful dialogue between the existing and the new. Conversely, where a complex context is understood and embraced, it can provide the starting point for modern buildings of true excellence.

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© English Heritage 

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei, artist, was nominated for his services to art and architecture.

Considered to be one of the most significant cultural figures of his generation in China and internationally, Ai Weiwei co-inhabits the roles of a conceptual artist, architect, curator, designer, photographer, film-maker, publisher and activist. Ai is admired equally for his art and his principles.

In the UK Ai's work has been seen in three recent London exhibitions. His Sunflower Seeds installation at Tate Modern's Turbine Hall was made up of millions of small works, each one an intricately hand-crafted, life-sized porcelain sunflower seed. The Lisson Gallery displayed 13 of his works including Colored Vases, groupings of Han Dynasty pots covered in industrial paint, referencing the destruction of historical values during the Cultural Revolution, as well as video installations. And Somerset House presented his first outdoor public sculpture Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads – a series of 12 bronze animal heads, recreating traditional Chinese zodiac sculptures. 2011 also saw exhibitions of his photographs at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, and of architectural projects at Peter Zumthor's Kunsthaus Bregenz.

A perfectionist, he attracts a highly skilled and devoted staff at his studio, FAKE Design, from which he catapulted to international fame in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games, when he was design consultant for the Beijing National Stadium in collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron.

During the process he decided to have his name removed from the project. Nonetheless, the Bird's Nest, as it was dubbed by the world press, is still very much an Weiwei-inspired project. Ai says he is no longer interested in creating architecture, but his 50-plus architectural works remain a central part of his body of work. His show at Tokyo's Mori Art included Dog House, Ai's as-yet unbuilt design proposal. Architecture's influence is still felt throughout his practice in his fascination with shapes and materials. Ai is once more working with Herzog & de Meuron on the Serpentine gallery's Summer Pavilion in London in 2012.

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© Gao Yuan 


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