Roche, Kevin

Roche, Kevin, 1922–2019, Irish-American architect, b. Dublin, grad. National Univ. of Ireland, Dublin (1943) and, after immigrating (1948) to the United States, studied Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, with Mies van der Rohe. In 1950 he joined Eero Saarinen's firm, becoming (1954–61) the principal design associate. After Saarinen's death, Roche and his future partner, John Dinkeloo (1918–81), completed his mentor's projects, and Roche executed his first major commission, the Oakland Museum, a series of low buildings, terraces, and gardens bound to an overall infrastructure. An urban modernist, Roche is best known for his buildings of the 1960s and 70s, structures of great intelligence and power that provide homes for many of America's political, corporate, and cultural institutions and that respond to the unique needs of each site and situation. The Ford Foundation headquarters (1968), New York City, is probably his best-known building; it features a sloping 12-story atrium garden with glass-walled offices on two sides, massive granite columns, and steel beams. He also created (1967) a master plan for New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and spent 40 years adding new galleries and renovating wings. His firm's other outstanding buildings include the Knights of Columbus Building (1969), New Haven; the Pyramids (1971, originally the College Life Insurance Co. headquarters), Indianapolis; One United Nations Plaza (1975), New York City; 800 Westchester Avenue (1977, originally the General Foods building), Rye, N.Y.; and the Ridge at Danbury (1982, originally the Union Carbide headquarters), Danbury, Conn. Among his later works are the sports center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2002) and the Kimmel Center (2003), New York Univ. Roche was the recipient of the 1982 Pritzker Prize.

See E.-L. Pelkonen, Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment (2011).

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