Richard MacCormac

Sir Richard Cornelius MacCormac CBE, PPRIBA, FRSA, RA (3 September 1938 – 26 July 2014),[1] was a modernist English architect and the founder of MJP Architects.


Richard MacCormac

Richard Cornelius MacCormac

(1938-09-03)3 September 1938
Marylebone, London, England
Died26 July 2014(2014-07-26) (aged 75)
Spitalfields, London, England
Alma materTrinity College, University of Cambridge
Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London
OccupationArchitect/university lecturer
Years active1967–2014
Notable work
Ruskin Library, Southwark tube station
Spouse(s)Susan Karin Landen (c1964)
Partner(s)Jocasta Innes (c1981 – 2013, her death)

Early life and backgroundEdit

Richard Cornelius MacCormac was born in Marylebone, London on 3 September 1938, the son of Dr. Henry MacCormac, (1879 – 12 December 1950), CBE FRCP, a dermatologist of Ulster origin, and Marion Maude MacCormac (1906–1998; née Broomhall).[2]

Through his paternal lineage, MacCormac was the great-grandson of Dr. Henry MacCormac, a prominent nineteenth-century physician in Northern Ireland who was the father of Sir William MacCormac, 1st Bt, KCB, KCVO, who served as a house physician and surgeon to Queen Victoria[2] and honorary sergeant-surgeon to King Edward VII. The family was a well-known medical dynasty in the nineteenth century that originated from County Armagh and claims descent from Cornelius MacCormac, a high-ranking naval officer, and Colonel Joseph Hall, a wealthy distiller in County Armagh.[2] Distant relatives also include a branch of the Easmon family of Sierra Leone, descended from Dr. John Farrell Easmon, the discoverer of Blackwater fever.[citation needed]

Education and early careerEdit

After serving his national service in the Royal Navy, MacCormac was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he achieved a double first before proceeding to the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London.[3]

MacCormac undertook a broad range of work, including social housing for the London Borough of Merton,[3] before founding MacCormac Jamieson and Prichard in 1972. In 2011, he left MJP to set up a new practise in his own name.[4]

After winning an open competition for the design of the University of Bristol Arts Faculty building, he made his name in the 1980s through the use of modernist design, particularly in university architecture. These included: the Sainsbury Building for Worcester College, Oxford (won the 1984 Civic Trust Award); the Ruskin Library at the University of Lancaster (Independent on Sunday Building of the Year Award 1996, Royal Fine Art Commission/BSkyB Building of the Year University Winner 1998, Millennium Products status awarded by the Design Council 1999);[1] Bowra Building at Wadham College, Oxford; Burrell's Fields at Trinity College, Cambridge (RIBA Regional Award 1997, Civic Trust Award 1997) and the Garden Quadrangle at St John's College, Oxford.[1]

Notable projectsEdit

MacCormac's commercial clients included: Southwark tube station for the Jubilee Line Extension (Royal Fine Art Commission Trust/BSkyB Millennium Building of the Year Award 2000);[1] the Wellcome Foundation Wing/Dana Centre at the Science Museum, London (Celebrating Construction Achievement Regnl Award for Greater London 2000);[1] the Cable and Wireless training centre in Coventry (Royal Fine Art Commission/Sunday Times Building of the Year Award 1994)[1] and a Tesco supermarket in Ludlow.

MacCormac designed the new Egton Wing of the BBC's Broadcasting House. But more than halfway through the project, the BBC asked for a redesign in light of its budget restrictions, and MacCormac refused, unwilling to sacrifice the quality of his design, and hence MJP was sacked from the project.[5] In 1999, MacCormac designed a new home in Hampstead for Arsenal F.C. striker Thierry Henry, described as "one of the finest examples of modern architecture in the UK".[6]

MacCormac was a co-founder of the Phoenix Initiative, working on merging art and architecture for the future concept of central Coventry.[3] The project was shortlisted RIBA Stirling Prize in 2004.[1]

Academic career and honoursEdit

MacCormac taught architecture at the University of Cambridge (1969–75; 1979-810), and was a visiting professor of architecture at the University of Edinburgh from 1982 to 1985, the University of Hull (1998–99) and a studio tutor at the London School of Economics in 1998.[1]

Elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1982,[1] he was elected to the Royal Academy in 1993.[3] Made an honorary fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge in 2006,[7] he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science (D.Sc) in 2008.[1] Made a CBE in 1994, he was knighted in 2001.[1]

His hobbies included music and reading,[1] and he owned and sailed a 1908 oyster fishing smack in the Thames Estuary.[8]

Personal lifeEdit

MacCormac married Susan Karin Landen in Surrey in 1964 and had two children, William Paul Lars MacCormac (born 1969) and Luke Henry Landen MacCormac (5 October 1971 – 30 June 1982), who died at age 10.[9]

In 1981, MacCormac met his long-term partner Jocasta Innes, the well-known author who wrote over 60 books.[10] The couple resided in Spitalfields. With Jocasta Innes' death on 20 April 2013 and fighting his own cancer battle, her house was put up for sale.[11]

In June 2014 Sir Richard published Two Houses in Spitalfields. Photographed by the well-known interiors photographer Jan Baldwin, and with a foreword by the historian Dan Cruickshank, it is a very personal description of the joined houses just off Brick Lane that he and Jocasta Innes shared for thirty years. Proceeds from the book are being donated to the Maggie's centres cancer charity.[12]


MacCormac died on 26 July 2014 at the age of 75 from cancer.[13] He was buried next to Jocasta Innes in St. Mary’s' churchyard in the village of Laverton in Somerset.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Sir Richard MacCormac". Debretts. Retrieved 19 February 2012.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c "Father and son – a tale of two cities", The Ulster Medical Journal, Winter 1968; 37 (1)1
  3. ^ a b c d "Sir Richard MacCormac". Royal Academy. Archived from the original on 2 January 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  4. ^ Andrea Klettner (2 February 2011). "Richard MacCormac parts from MJP". Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  5. ^ Barnett, Antony (14 November 2005). "BBC in political row after sacking leading architect". The Guardian. London, UK. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Sir Richard MacCormac". Trinity College, Cambridge. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  8. ^ "Sir Richard MacCormac profile at". Archived from the original on 30 August 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  9. ^ The Times, Tuesday, 6 July 1982; p. 22; Issue 61278; col A Deaths
  10. ^ Interviews Emma Cook (15 June 1997). "HOW WE MET – Arts and Entertainment". The Independent. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  11. ^ Jocasta Innes obituary,; accessed 30 July 2014.
  12. ^ the gentle author. "Two Houses in Spitalfields". Spitalfields Life. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Sir Richard MacCormac, award-winning architect, dies at 75". Retrieved 29 July 2014.

External linksEdit