An avant garde architect who was father to ‘the baby born with grey hair’

Louis Adair Roche: November 5th, 1927 – July 28th, 2014

 

Louis Adair Roche, who died recently aged 86 in Brighton, was an avant garde architect who worked in Dublin, Belfast and London.

His landmark Belfast City Hospital, a 250 feet high yellow cube, dominates the southern approach to the city and is his most visible contribution to the northern capital, and to the built environment on the two islands where he worked. Opened in 1986, its lengthy journey from Roche’s drawing board at Munce and Kennedy led to it being described as “the baby born with grey hair” in a TV report on its opening.

Though not directly involved in the firm’s plans for the renewal of Derry, Roche was credited with encouraging the more radical members of Munce and Kennedy, according to Gerald Sheffrey’s book Planning Derry: Planning and Politics in Northern Ireland. He was also involved in the design of the Lyric Theatre.

Roche was born in Monkstown, Co Cork, the younger of Louis and Gladys (née Howell)’s two sons. He went to school in Cork City, before boarding for two years at Portora Royal School.

He went on to study architectecture at University College London. On qualifying, Adair practised briefly in Kilkenny, moved for a few years to Dublin and, in 1957, joined the leading Belfast architectural firm, Munce and Kennedy. He became a partner in 1962.

In 1972 he moved his family to London, establishing his own architectural practice ISER.

He retired in the mid 2000s, and moved to Brighton, where his ex-wife was living. He had first married Patricia Mitchell from Ossett, Yorkshire in 1948 when they were both studying at the University of London. They had six children before divorcing in 1988.They remarried in 2008.

Roche is surived by his wife Patricia, and their children Lise, Nick, Jeremy, Cathy, Adam, and Emma.