Will Alsop RA was a charismatic provocateur, an agitator who enjoyed upturning the status quo in his interactions and his architecture. He was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 2000, the same year his striking Peckham Library won the RIBA Stirling Prize. The Academy was a place Alsop could discuss ideas over a drink with artists and architects, where he would enjoy the ceremony and associated fanfare, but would equally prod a little at the “institution”.
Alsop was only interested in boundaries in order to erode them, creating a space (physically and metaphorically) where art, architecture and life would coexist. He would use painting as an integral part of the design process, helping to explore the ideas which would find their way into forms. He would submit his paintings each year to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, regularly disturbing some of the artists in the process.
Despite not being prone to joining committees, Alsop was a loyal member of the Royal Academy Forum for more than a decade. The group brought artists, architects and academics together to discuss ideas, and formulate interdisciplinary public events. It was the perfect outlet for his energy and intellect. With his maverick attitude the Forum benefitted greatly from his contributions.
Alsop had a generous spirit and was hugely supportive and encouraging of others in whom he could see potential, especially architects of a younger generation. I also recall very early on during my time at the Royal Academy his encouragement to “shake the establishment”. He inspired me to be bold and pursue ideas outside the box. He ran workshops with A-level students that had them throw paint at walls and no doubt completely unravelled their conceptions of architecture forever.
He will be missed at the Academy but his courageous spirit will remain with us.