In memory of Kevin Roche (1922-2019)
In memory of Kevin Roche DFAH ‘95 (1922-2019), world-famous modern architect and inspirational member of the Yale and New Haven design community.
Roche was a committed supporter of education at the Yale School of Architecture, having donated his Pritzker Prize money to help found the Eero Saarinen Visiting Professorship in 1984 and then providing guidance and resources for the 2005 exhibition Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future.
A 2011 Yale School of Architecture traveling exhibition, Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment, was the final retrospective of his work and was accompanied by a book by the same name, both by Professor Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen.
A native of Dublin, Roche grew up in County Cork and graduated from University College Dublin. He left Ireland for Chicago in 1948 to pursue his master’s degree under Mies van der Rohe. After graduating, while working on plans for the U.N. headquarters in New York, Roche was recruited by Eero Saarinen to join his firm in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The firm later moved to Hamden, CT, and when Saarinen died in 1961, Roche was left to complete some of his late partner’s most iconic projects, among them the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
Roche and John Dinkeloo (1918 – 1981) continued the practice, remaining in Hamden with a staff of 60. Since then the firm has realized dozens of significant large-scale projects, many abroad. In the United States, recent work includes several buildings for Lucent Technologies; Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center for Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1997–2002); and Lafayette Tower in Washington, D.C. (2005–9). Major international projects include Shiodome City Center in Tokyo (1997–2003); Ciudad Grupo Santander Headquarters, Madrid (1995–2005); Headquarters for Bouygues S.A. Holding Company in Paris (2003–6); and the Dublin Conference Center in Ireland (2005–9). Roche also continues to work for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, carrying forward his 1971 master plan under three successive directors, completing a total of 46 different interventions to the building complex, while revisiting early portions of the project, such as the American Wing, which reopened in 2009. Roche has also contributed to the expansion, renovation, and designs of several other notable New York cultural landmarks, such as the Central Park Zoo, the Jewish Museum and the Museum of Natural History. New Haven is home of two extant buildings by Roche, the Richard C. Lee High School (1962–67) and the Knights of Columbus Headquarters (1965–69). Another Roche project, the New Haven Coliseum, was demolished in 2007 to make way for redevelopment of the downtown site.
In addition to the Pritzker Prize, which he received in 1982, Roche was the recipient of the Gold Medal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1990, and the AIA Gold Medal in 1993.