Spotlight: Kevin Roche

Known for his progressive aesthetics and vast body of work, 1982 Pritzker Prize laureate Kevin Roche (born June 14, 1922) has headed numerous projects of varying program and scale as the design principal of his firm Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates. In 1980, shortly before the death of Roche's business partner John Dinkeloo, the firm was described by critic C. Ray Smith in 1980 as "the most aesthetically daring and innovative American firm of architects now working."

© Nathan Benn

Born in Ireland, Roche's early years as an architect are telling: he first moved to the USA in 1948 to study under Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology but left after just one semester, swapping Mies' strict formulaic style for a much more expressive modernism when he joined the firm of Eliel and Eero Saarinen, eventually becoming Eero Saarinen's principal design associate.

Knights of Columbus Building. Image © Flickr user cjreddaway licensed under CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

Following Saarinen’s death, Roche took over the firm alongside John Lacey and John Dinkeloo. They completed many of Saarinen’s unfinished projects, including The Gateway Arch of St. Louis, and the TWA terminal of JFK airport. Among his most notable works at Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates are the College Life Insurance Company Headquarters, the The Ford Foundation, and the Knights of Columbus building.

The Ford Foundation. Image © Wikimedia user Stakhanov licensed under CC BY 3.0
The Ford Foundation. Image © Flickr user sixteenmilesofstring licensed under CC BY 2.0

During his career, he has garnered numerous awards including the Pritzker, the AIA Gold Medal, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal. In spite of this wide recognition, however, it can be difficult to identify his designs as part of the same body of work, and he has rejected the labels people often try to apply to him; speaking in the early 1980s about his headquarters for General Foods, he explained that the building "is not post-modern or pre-modern. It is simply the most obvious thing I could have done."

College Life Insurance Company HQ. Image © Jimmy Baikovicius

See all of Kevin Roche's work featured ArchDaily via the thumbnails below, and more about Roche below those:

Spotlight: Kevin Roche - More Images+ 2

Kevin Roche Reflects on His Five Decade Career, From Beginnings in Ireland to His US Career

Ford Foundation Renovations by Gensler Approved by New York Landmarks Commission

'Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment' Exhibition Review

Wavelength Pictures' Documentary Set to Revisit the Life and Work of Kevin Roche

References: Pritzker Prize

About this author
Cite: Connor Walker. "Spotlight: Kevin Roche" 14 Jun 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

College Life Insurance Company Headquarters. Image Courtesy of KRJDA

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