Born: 24 June 1947
Elected RA: 10 December 1998
Ian Ritchie uses the interplay between words and images to distil into poems and aphorisms varied influences from technology, social concerns, history and context. He then translates these into exquisite and delicate forms as etchings. Language is the common currency between them, and there is a remarkable concurrence between the elegant brushstrokes with which he depicts his architectural, sculptural and industrial design projects and their built reality, whether they are as richly simple as the Spire of Dublin, or as complex as the White City shopping complex in West London.
Ritchie graduated with distinction from the PCL, London (University of Westminster), and after working with Norman Foster (1972-76) he spent two years in France designing and self-constructing projects. He founded Chrysalis Architects (1979-81) with Alan Stanton and Mike Davies and also worked at Arup’s Lightweight Structures Group (1978-81). In 1981 he created both Ian Ritchie Architects in London and co-founded the design engineering firm Rice Francis Ritchie (RFR) in Paris. Before leaving RFR in 1990, this practice had been responsible for major projects in Paris including the Bioclimatic Facades at la Villette Cité des Sciences and the Louvre Pyramids and Sculpture Courts with I M Pei.
His architectural practice has realised many diverse landmark projects throughout Europe including the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art Glass Towers, Madrid, the Leipzig Glass Hall, EdF Pylons, Dublin Spire and RSC Courtyard Theatre. He leads one of the world’s leading innovative practices with a reputation for strategic thinking, environmental and ethical concerns, design quality and R&D with industry.
His practice has won more than sixty awards including the Iritecna Prize for Europe and the Commonwealth Association of Architects Award for the Advancement of Architecture and shortlisted four times for the RIBA Stirling Prize.
Ian Ritchie devotes much time to education, having been visiting professor at Leeds University School of Civil Engineering, TU Vienna, Moscow and Liverpool Universities and also taught at the Architectural Association.
He regularly chairs international juries, including the Stirling Prize and Les Jeunes Albums France. He helped found CABE in 1999 after serving as a Royal Fine Art Commissioner, was a governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company (2000-2011), a member of Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 (2001-2011) and sat on the European Construction Technology Platform, (2005-2008). Ritchie continues to lecture internationally on architecture, art, urbanism, regeneration and values, light, structures, glass technology and innovation at major venues including the Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Institution, Tate, ICA, Pompidou, Hayward Gallery, Kunst u. Austellungshalle Bundesrepublik Bonn, New York Architecture Centre and the European Commission as well as at universities across the world.
In 2000 he was awarded a CBE, and became the sole foreign architect to receive the French Academie d’Architecture Grand Silver Medal for Innovation joining a small illustrious group including Jean Prouvé, Felix Candela, Frei Otto, Buckminster Fuller and Peter Rice.