Ian Ritchie RA (b. 1947)

Unlike many architects who develop their first ideas through sketches, Ritchie develops his through language: poetry and aphorisms influenced by subjects ranging from physics and neuroscience to social concerns, history, and landscape. He then translates these into a visual medium, often in the form of etchings. There is a remarkable concordance 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 sensual and technically complex as the Royal Academy of Music’s new Susie Sainsbury Theatre and Angela Burgess Recital Hall.

Ritchie studied architecture in Liverpool and London, and after working with Norman Foster (1972-76) spent two years in France designing and self-constructing Fluy House. While working at Arup’s Lightweight Structures Group (1978-81) he founded Chrysalis Architects (1979-81) with Alan Stanton and Mike Davies. In 1981 he founded Ian Ritchie Architects (iRAL) in London and co-founded the design engineering firm Rice Francis Ritchie (RFR) in Paris. Before he left RFR in 1990, the practice had been responsible for seminal work at La Villette Cité des Sciences, and the Louvre Pyramids and Sculpture Courts.

IRAL is one of the world’s leading innovative and R & D focussed practices, with more than 30 ‘world firsts’ in architectural geometry, engineering and material techniques to its credit. By the late 1990s the practice had became world-renowned for their glass structures, material-technical innovation and intelligent environmental and sustainable design. Their work is underpinned by strong analysis of context and profound understanding of materials and construction, allied to an appreciation of the subtle connections between architecture’s social impact, the arts of construction and the role of beauty in architecture.

Landmark projects include Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art’s Glass Towers, the Leipzig Glass Hall, the Spire of Dublin, RSC Courtyard Theatre, and Bermondsey and Wood Lane tube stations for London Underground. His most recent projects in London are the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, Mercer Walk in Covent Garden, and the Royal Academy of Music’s Susie Sainsbury Theatre and Angela Burgess Recital Hall. IRAL have won more than 80 national and international awards and been shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize four times.

In 2000 Ritchie was awarded a CBE, and received the French Academie d’Architecture Grand Silver Medal for Innovation. In 2013 he was elected member of Berlin’s Akademie der Künste. He regularly chairs international juries, including the RIBA Stirling Prize, Czech Grand Prix, Les Jeunes Albums France and was a member of the 2017 World Architecture Festival’s Super Jury in Berlin. He helped found CABE in 1999 after serving as a Royal Fine Art Commissioner, was a member of Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 (2001-2011), sat on the European Construction Technology Platform (2005-2008), advised the President of Columbia University on its Manhattanville Project and the Director of CUSP at New York University. He was a governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company (2000-2017), and advisor to the Ove Arup Foundation (2000-2018), and Dean School of Architecture Design & Construction University of Greenwich (2011-18). He is a trustee of Backstage Trust (2012-).

Ritchie has taught at universities in the EU and UK, the Moscow School of Architecture, and the Architectural Association. He was Professor of Architecture at the RA Schools (2004-12) and is currently Honorary Visiting Professor of Architecture at Liverpool University (2009- ). He frequently lectures on architecture, urbanism, regeneration and values, light, neuroarchitecture, glass technology and innovation at universities and major venues worldwide.


Royal Academician


Born: 1947 in Hove, Sussex, England, United Kingdom

Nationality: British

Elected RA: 10 December 1998

Elected Senior RA: 1 October 2022

Professor of Architecture: 2004 - 2013

Gender: Male

Preferred media: Architecture

Works by Ian Ritchie in the RA Collection

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Works associated with Ian Ritchie in the RA Collection

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