Alsop Retires (For Now)

Alsop (Courtesy Alsop Architects)

Alsop (Courtesy Alsop Architects)

Our compatriots across the Pond report today that Will Alsop, “British architecture’s most colourful personality,” is leaving his eponymous firm.

Following 30 years of running a private practice, the 61-year-old has told BD that he will shortly hand over day-to-day management of Battersea-based Alsop to others, in order to devote more time to painting and teaching.

The paper goes on to say that it’s an amicable departure, with Alsop staying on as a consultant to the Archial-overseen firm (for an American referent, think WSP or Aedes), though there are also hints of a falling out, and even the suggestion the fanciful designer could start up his own independent firm should he so desire.

“I’m delighted that Will has finally cut the knot with his slavemasters,” an architect from Rogers Stirk Harbour told BD. “I also can’t imagine a world without Will Alsop running a practice in some form or another.” Alsop, however, defended himself, and rather colorfully–befitting his work?–we might add: “I started the fucking thing and it’s got my name on it. I want to make sure the work is still as challenging and exciting as it should be.”

The Stirling Prize-winning architect sold ownership of the firm to SMC in 2006 (SMC changed its name to Archial last year) a move seen to give influence and resources to the heady architect’s work but also fraught with the potential to undermine its inherent creativity. Known at home for work such as the Peckham Library, Palestra, and his North Greenwich Undeground station, the closest he has ever gotten to the states was the Sharp Centre for Design in Toronto, a stalled complex in Yonkers, and his work on the MAS’ Coney Island counter-proposal. Here’s hoping that’s not the last we’ll hear from him. Besides all the cussing, that is.

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