Richard Rodgers Architecture: Characteristics and Examples

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Richard Rogers, a Pritzker prize laureate and one of the most famous modern architects, is known for turning buildings inside out. The genius behind every Richard Rogers architecture can be seen in each of his designs.

In this article, we will get a glimpse of the notable works accomplished by Richard Rogers Practice, which include some of the most famous structures in the world, some of which you have probably heard about.

Richard Rogers Architecture: Key Characteristics

a) Exoskeleton

Exoskeleton

Most Richard Rogers designs have exposed partshidden in most buildings for the public to see.For instance, the pipework, stairs or escalators, tube-encased elevators, beams, and scaffold-like structures can be seen in the exterior of most designs. Some buildings, such as the Millennium Dome, have structures that look like cranes, and one might mistake the building as still being under construction.

b) Lines and Curves

Movement

Image Source: skytraxratings.com

Richard Rogers’ designs are characterized by a lot of lines, curves, corners, and surprising turns and twists. In buildings like the Pompidou Centre or the LSE building, lines are strongly characterized to mimic scaffolds.

c) Colors

Colors

Image Source: kimandcarrie.com

The colors used on Richard Rogers’ buildings are applied minimally but creatively. Rogers uses colors on the lines or curves of a building in contrast with neutrally colored backgrounds to make them pop.

d) Unconventional Features

The buildings designed by Lord Rogers are thought-provoking and stir emotions of different kinds. At first, most buildings evoked different opinions, with some people loving the designs and others absolutely against most of them.

Bold Features

Image Source: lloyds.com

As you will see in the examples below, Richard Rogers did everything out of the ordinary, making him one of the most experimental architects ever.

e) Light Materials

Light Materials

Image Source: manchesterhistory.com

Most buildings by Richard Rogers have very little use of concrete, especially on walls. You will see a lot of glass walls and metal frames instead.

Richard Rogers Buildings and Projects

1) Pompidou Centre

Pompidou Centre

Image Source: us.france.fr

The Pompidou Centre has a classy design that reminds me of the legendary Louboutin stiletto with the red sole because of the red color beneath the stairs. The stairs stand out against the exoskeleton of the building, which looks like a set of scaffolds from a distance.

Pompidou Centre

Image Source: paris-forever.com

On another side of the building, you can see a representation of piping that looks like an art installation. Richard Rogers designed this building together with the Italian architect Renzo Piano.

Pompidou Centre

Image Source: wsj.com

2) Lloyd’s Building (The Inside-Out Building)

Lloyd's Building (The Inside-Out Building)

Image Source: dezeen.com

In Richard’s words, according to this report, “Lloyd’s building is aflexible machine for a financial marketplace.”

Lloyd's Building (The Inside-Out Building)

Image Source: news.sky.com

The structure is also known as the “inside out” building because the lifts and piping are on the outside, and a large central atrium is in the middle, something you will see in the Pompidou Center design. The design choice emphasizes Richard’s focus on the most hidden parts of a building.

3) Centre Building LSE – London School of Economics

Centre Building LSE - London School of Economics

Image Source: archdaily.com

The Centre Building LSE embodies a similar architectural philosophy as thePompidou Center, with the external design having metal and glass on the exterior. The design serves two purposes; allowing light into the building and looking aesthetically pleasing.

4) International Spy Museum, Washington

International Spy Museum, Washington

Image Source: thedailybeast.com

The International Spy Museum in Washington looks good in its black and red design. The glassy exterior of the building is something you will see in most of Richard Rogers’ designs.

5) The Macallan Distillery

From a distance, you will not be able to tell the difference between the Macallan Distillery from the hill around it. The building is housed under a roof that looks like one with the environment. The landscaping ideas Richard Rogers used on the project can be seen in other examples, such as the Louvre Center of Conservation.

The Macallan Distillery

Image Source: whisky.com

The distillery’s interior has a bold display of distillers and storage areas.

The Macallan Distillery

Image Source: bloomberg.com

6) European Court of Human Rights, France

European Court of Human Rights, France

Image Source: wiltonpark.org.uk

Also known as the Strasbourg Court, the European Court of Human Rights is one of the most notable projects by Richard Rogers. From a distance, you can confuse the building with an oil depot, making it one of the unique buildings in France.

7) Millennium Dome (Now The O2 Arena)

The Millennium Dome, designed by the Richard Rogers practice, is one of the contemporary architecture projects that had a myriad of reactions. The building looks as though it is still under construction with crane-like structures on it. The structure now hosts visual arts exhibitions, sports, and events and is one of the main entertainment centers in England. The O2 Arena is not only popular in the UK but is one of the world’s most popular arenas.

Millennium Dome (Now The O2 Arena)

Image Source: stuartforbes.com

The Millennium Dome design has some meaning behind it. The dome’s diameter is 365 meters to symbolize the days in a year. The center of the dome is 52 meters tall, standing for 52 weeks a year. How Richard designed this building shows how intentional and symbolic he is as an architect.

8) Madrid Barajas Airport

The Madrid Barajas Airport has its entire roof made of gently curved bamboo laths, which are laminated. The Barajas airport is the largest bamboo project in the world and is a high-tech approach to making the roof.

Madrid Barajas Airport

Image Source: archdaily.com

The Madrid Barajas project won the Stirling prize from the Royal institute of British architects, one of the most prestigious architectural awards.

9) Antwerp Law Courts Belgium (Palace of Justice)

The Antwerp Law Courts in Belgium is a set of buildings designed to be a gateway to the city and greatly use natural resources such as lighting. The natural light in the building caters to most of the building’s lighting needs.

Antwerp Law Courts Belgium (Palace of Justice)

Image Source: encirclephotos.com

The buildings look like dhows in the ocean, as they take their inspiration from Flemish paintings of barges. With a line of trees in the background, the scenery looks well put together.

10) The New York Trade Center

After 9-11, the man trusted with designing the new world trade center building was the one and only Richard George Rogers.

The New York Trade Center

Image Source: ny.curbed.com

The World Trade Center is Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners’ first project in New York, later followed by other projects like the East River Waterfront.

11) One Park Taipei (Taiwan), 2018

One Park Taipei

Image Source: rshp.com

The One Park Taipei is a twin residential tower in Taipei and has some signature designs by Richard. The building has visible stairs from the outside, and the rooms have enough light coming in as there is nothing to obstruct the sun from the high-rise.

12) Oriel

oriel

Image Source: rshp.com

The Oriel building is one brilliant way Richard shows he can use curves in his design too. The conception of the building is that of structures around an oasis. Oriel looks like a pair of hands embracing whoever is getting in.

13) One Hyde Park

One Hyde Park

Image Source: architectural-review.com

One Hyde Park is a project of 86 residential buildings located in London. The building has a structure almost similar to the One Park Taipei towers with abundant use of glass, only shorter.

14) Urban Living Room

Urban Living Room

Image Source: archdaily.com

This Qianhai project proposal by Richard Rogers Partnership won the bid to build the project in Shenzen. This project consists of many buildings which represent the vibrant economy in China. The design is meant to push technological advances with the idea of proposing underground passes and low carbon emissions ideas.

15) Louvre Center of Conservation, Liévin

Louvre Center of Conservation, Liévin

Image Source: rshp.com

The building looks like an elevated pitch and was designed with principles similar to the Macallan Distillery. The center of conservation has a grass field on top of it, and an aerial view would not give away the fact that there is a building there.

16) Madrid Nuevo Norte, Madrid

Madrid Nuevo Norte (progetto), Madrid

Image Source: rshp.com

The Madrid Nuevo Norte is meant to revive the north of the Spanish capital. While the project will take 25 years to complete, it is an amazing fete by Richard.

17) Thames Wharf Studios

Thames Wharf Studios

Image Source: hanovergreen.co.uk

The Thames Wharf Studios project turned unused warehouses into office development spaces. The Thames Wharf Studios is where the RSHP offices are located in a move to suggest the importance of re-using old buildings, especially in the London Riverside area.

18) International Towers, Sydney

International Towers, Sydney

Image Source: ndy.com

The International Towers in Sydney are also known as the “three siblings,” with each tower having its own identity. The buildings were meant to set new benchmarks in Australia and push the architectural expectations in the city.

19) H-Farm Italy

H-Farm Italy

Image Source: h-farm.com

The H-Farm has a little bit of what you will see in the Louvre Center in Lievin because of the buildings that connect to the environment around them.

The buildings connect via a network of pathways, and there are entry points from multiple points.

The “H” in the design stands for “human” and is a space built to help innovative minds come up with digital solutions.

20) Minami Yamashiro Elementary School

Minami Yamashiro is one of RSHP’s projects that push innovation to the next level. The project was done to reunite and regenerate the community, and it was a mayor who commissioned it.

Minami Yamashiro Elementary School

Image Source: arquitecturaviva.com

The roofs of the classrooms in the school are designed to have natural lighting, and the project does not leave a huge carbon footprint when in use.

The project was cost-friendly and cost half of what a similar project in the UK would. The school has bright colors, making it a conducive learning environment.

21) Maggie’s Centre

Maggie's Centre

Image Source: archdaily.com

Maggie’s Centre won Richard the Sterling prize. The structure is a heart protected by four walls and is a center that supports any level of cancer patients. The building is an open space that people can enjoy, with the kitchen being the “heart” of the building.

Here, we see the bold use of colors and designs by Richard.

22) Heathrow Terminal 5

Heathrow Terminal 5

Image Source: londonairtravel.com

Just like many other Richard Rogers designs, the Heathrow terminal is a glass and steel structure with each of those materials displayed boldly. Inside the terminal are bare cylindrical pillars supporting the structure. The terminal’s interior looks a lot like the Madrid Barajas Airport’s interior in some aspects.

23) East River Waterfront, New York

East River Waterfront, New York

Image Source: edc.nyc

East river is one of the remarkable designs done by Richard in New York. The East River Waterfront was designed to bring together the diverse communities that live around the area. The plan is to ensure everyone has a chance to sit, fish, walk, read, or play, showing how purposeful Richard’s projects are.

24) Grand Union Building, London

Grand Union Building, London

Image Source: archello.com

The Grand Union building is a signature Richard-style kind of building with an external cladding panel. The building is high and uses the panel to prevent direct sunlight from getting into the building but allowing natural light in. The height further allows a cool breeze to flow freely into the building reducing the air conditioning costs during summer.

25) Waterside, Paddington basin

Waterside, Paddington basin

Image Source: gawcapital.com

Paddington Waterside is a vibrant mixed-use building that has changed the face of its environs. The building has stairs on the side, and you can see the abundant use of glass on the outside, making good use of the natural light and saving energy costs on the building.

The facade is glazed to reduce any harsh direct sunlight while allowing light to pass through.

26) Channel 4 HQ

The Channel 4 building is a sophisticated project by Richard Rogers. The interplay with glass parts shows how refined Richard’s architecture is.

Channel 4 HQ

Image Source: theguardian.com

The walls are see-through, and the walkways are lightweight since there is minimal use of concrete. The building has two towers, with each floor on each tower looking like a box supported by a metal beam. The staff cafeteria is at the heart of the building, something we can see at Maggie’s Center too.

27) Thames Reach Residential Project, London

Thames Reach Residential Project, London

Image Source: rshp.com

Just like the Thames Wharf project, this is a restorative project, but for living areas. The London building project takes advantage of the beautiful views the river offers. The cantilevered balconies make the buildings stand out in a calm and scenic environment.

28) PA technology Labs, Princeton, New Jersey (Patscenter)

PA technology Labs, Princeton, New Jersey (Patscenter)

Image Source: rshp.com

The Patscenter is one you can not miss because of its enthralling design. The building has a central spine and an A-shaped frame which provides air circulation, and has the staff cafeteria at the rectangular core. Additionally, offices on either side flank the structure.

PA technology Labs, Princeton, New Jersey (Patscenter)

Image Source: rshp.com

The building was to be constructed faster as it was needed sooner, and the genius behind the design is none other than the RSHP group.

29) Las Arenas

Las Arenas

Image Source: restauranteabrassame.com

Re-opened in 2011, Richard brought some life back into this mixed-use building, uplifting its face and making it one of the buildings you must visit in Barcelona. The building has a balcony on which everyone can savor the views of the Spanish city.

30) Fleetguard Factory, Quimper, France

Fleetguard Factory, Quimper, France

Image Source: archello.com

Similar to what we see with the Patscenter project, this building has a very experimental exterior, with industrial beams holding the structure of the building together.

As in most of his projects, the building makes use of natural light and has a lot of open spaces.

31) The Metro Tunnel Project

The Metro Tunnel Project

Image Source: rshp.com

The project includes five underground stations, all with exciting designs. The stations combine light, functionality, and design to offer convenience and comfort to their users.

32) Zip-up House

The Zip-Up House goes against traditional building conventions of designing buildings. The house was a response to a competition that sought creative designs and offered convenience.

Zip-up House

Image Source: rshp.com

The Zip-up House is a rapid construction solution at a low cost. The house is based on parts that can be mass-produced and combined to make the building. Such pioneering buildings like the Zip-up House, give modern solutions to architectural challenges.

33) Reliance Control Electronics factory

Reliance Control Electronics factory

Image Source: atlasofplaces.com

Just like what we see with the Fleetguard Factory, the Reliance controls factory is an exciting use of industrial space to maximize use while creating visually appealing designs. The building has a simple design with metal bars creating a play of lines on the sides of the building.

34) Merano

Merano

Image Source: rshp.com

Merano is a residential housing project designed by the RSHP group. The bold use of colors, seemingly stacked floors, natural lighting, glass in abundance, and minimal use of concrete make the building a Richard Rogers classic.

35) Neo Bankside

Neo Bankside

Image Source: rshp.com

Another residential project is the Neo Bankside, with minimalistic use of colors and visible exoskeleton frames that wrap around the building. The minimal use of colors extends into the interior of the building. The generous use of glass walls adds the building to a list of sustainable designs that Richard comes up with.

36) Daimler Chrysler Building

The Daimler Chrysler building is a mixed-use building that looks like a culmination of all of Richard’s styles. From quirky designs to an interesting use of colors, the house offers a marvelous visual play. The building employs the use of lines, curves, rectangles, cylindrical shapes, a normal square building, and staircases at every turn.

Daimler Chrysler Building

Image Source: architectuul.com

Richard Rogers Facts

  • Richard had three sons.
  • Richard’s father, William Nino Rogers, was a medical student.
  • His partners over time included Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, Wendy Cheesman, and Ivan Harbour, and he had a lot more other collaborations.
  • Richard’s designs were greatly inspired by Paul Rudolph, who was his teacher at Yale.
  • Richard was the first architect to do the annual BBC Reith lectures, later published as the “Cities for a Small Planet.”
  • Richard was appointed by the deputy prime minister of the UK to chair the UK Government’s Urban Task Force, charged with identifying the cause of an urban decline in England.
  • Richard was further the chief advisor to the Mayor of London on matters of architecture and urbanization.
  • Richard Rogers was knighted as Lord Rogers of Riverside.
  • Richard graduated from Architectural Association in London.
  • Richard was an honorary professor at Thames Valley University.
  • Richard got his master’s degree at Yale University on a Fulbright scholarship.
  • Richard’s wife, Su, was an urban designer.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Image Source: budowle.com

Richard Rogers is a force within the architectural world, and each of his designs is a breath of fresh air. His architectural practice is exciting to watch as he does not just draw buildings but creates experiences out of them.

Featured Image Source: minniemuse.com

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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