Jan Kaplicky, 1937-2009

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COURTESY CESKA TELEVIZE

The British architectural press has reported that Future Systems founder Jan Kaplicky died yesterday in Prague, hours after his wife had given birth to a daughter.

A refugee from Communist Czechoslovakia, Kaplicky landed in London where he worked for Denis Lasdun, Richard Rogers (working on the Pompidou Center competition), and finally Norman Foster. In 1979, while still working with Foster, he founded the practice Future Systems. The firm is noted for its bold and adventurous designs, including the NatWest Media Centre, the cricket-ground media pod that won the 1999 Stirling Prize, and the aluminum-faced Selfridges department store in Birmingham. Archigrammer Michael Webb told AN he admired Kaplicky’s designs, which he labeled “slightly naive, but then one has to admire the naiveté that produced blobs like his asymmetrical unbuilt 1990 166 Green Building (done with Arup). My generation would call him Dan Darish.”

Kaplicky was 71 and had a son, Josef, from his first marriage to Amanda Levete, a partner at Future Systems from 1989 until recently. The Architect’s Newspaper will publish an appreciation of Kaplicky in a forthcoming issue.
 


THE SELFRIDGES & CO. DEPARTMENT STORE IN BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND (2003).
COURTESY G-MAN


THE NATWEST MEDIA CENTRE AT LORD’S CRICKET GROUND IN LONDON (1999).
PADDY BRIGGS
 
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