In Memoriam – Eamonn Kevin Roche, 1922-2019
For Immediate Release
Architect Eamonn Kevin Roche was born June 14, 1922 in Dublin, Ireland and moved with his family in 1924 to Mitchelstown where his father Eamon Roche, the noted Irish Republican organizer and political prisoner, became general manager of the town’s creamery. The youngest of three brothers (a sister died during childhood), Roche attended the Convent School and subsequently the Christian Brothers. In 1938, Roche transferred to Rockwell College from which he graduated in 1940. He began his studies at the School of Architecture at University College Dublin in 1940 and completed the five-year program in 1945. During his student years he designed several projects for the Mitchelstown Creameries including the cheese warehouse and the piggeries which were then being established on the Mitchelstown Castle grounds.
After graduation, Roche worked for Michael Scott in Dublin and Maxwell Fry in London. He came to the United States in 1948 to continue postgraduate studies with Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology. In 1949, he joined the United Nations Headquarters Planning Office in New York and worked, as a member of that staff, on the United Nations Headquarters. In 1950, he moved to Detroit to be part of the small office of Eero Saarinen, who was then emerging as one of the world's leading architects. In 1954, he became Saarinen's principal design associate working on several major American projects. Upon Saarinen's untimely death in 1961, Roche together with Saarinen's partners John Dinkeloo and Joseph Lacy, completed twelve Saarinen projects and founded the current Hamden, Connecticut based firm of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates as a successor firm. These projects included the TWA Flight Center at JFK (Idlewild); Dulles International Airport Terminal, Washington, DC; the St. Louis Arch; CBS Headquarters, New York; Deere and Company Headquarters, Moline, Illinois; Bell Telephone Laboratory in Holmdel, New Jersey; the Vivian Beaumont Repertory Theater at Lincoln Center, New York; and the Ezra Stiles and Samuel F. B. Morse Colleges, Yale University.
In 1961, Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates received their first commission by winning a competition to design the Oakland Museum, remarkable for the ahead of its time ‘green’ roof. In the career that followed, spanning over six decades, Roche’s diverse body of work included eight museums, 38 institutional and corporate headquarters, seven research laboratories, performing arts centers, theaters and campus buildings for six universities. His more than 200 built projects can be found throughout the United States, Europe, India and Asia.
In New York City, noted projects include the Ford Foundation Headquarters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, (where he developed the master plan and for nearly 50 years designed all the new wings), the Central Park Zoo, 60 Wall Street and the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Memorial to the Holocaust, currently undergoing renovation to the exhibit areas.
In Washington, D.C., Roche designed several buildings for Property Group Partners, including his final project, Capitol Crossing, to be finished at the end of this year. In Madrid, Spain, the corporate campus for Banco Santander consists of 1.5 million square feet of office space deployed through ten interlaced buildings. The campus expanded upon Roche’s synthesis of landscape, roadways and building envelopes, a theme in his work dating back to his 1982 design for Union Carbide in Danbury, Connecticut. While many of the projects such as France's Bouygues headquarters, completed in 1988, represented some of the world’s largest campuses, many others were more intimate, such as the delicately realized Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts in Middletown, Connecticut.
The work of Kevin Roche has been the subject of special exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, in 1968 and in 1979, and at the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1990, as well as in many traveling exhibitions abroad. He was the subject of a symposium and exhibition at Yale University in 2010 along with the book Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment by Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen. Roche is also the subject of two additional books: Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates 1962-1975 by Yukio Futagawa in 1975 and Kevin Roche by Francesco Dal Co in 1985. In addition, Roche is the subject of the 2017 documentary entitled Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect, directed by Mark Noonan.
He has received many honorary awards from universities including the National University of Ireland and was granted a Doctor of Fine Arts from Yale University. He has served on the boards of numerous cultural institutions and was the past president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his other honors, he was awarded the Academie d'Architecture Grand Gold Medal in 1977, the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1982 and the Gold Medal for Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1990. In 1993 he received another of architecture's highest honors, the American Institute of Architects' Gold Medal.
A devoted husband, father and grandfather, Roche is survived by his wife of fifty-five years, Jane Clair Roche (née Tuohy), his five children Eamon, Paud, Denis, Anne and Alice, their spouses and his fifteen grandchildren.
Eamonn Kevin Roche will be missed dearly by his family and friends. A modest and compassionate man, he will be remembered enduringly for his contributions to the field of architecture and for his great humanity. As we mourn his passing, we remember the final remarks he gave in his Pritzker Prize acceptance speech: “We should, all of us, bend our will to create a civilization in which we can live at peace with nature and each other. To build well is an act of peace. Let us hope that it will not be in vain.”
The Roche Family
Contact: Linda Scinto, 203-929-5549, firstname.lastname@example.org