Arts and Design

Roger FitzGerald obituary

My father, Roger FitzGerald, who has died aged 63, was a leading architect who chaired the national firm ADP for 20 years. Among other projects, he designed the only significant extension to the Palace of Westminster since the present structure was built in the 1800s. He was also a prolific painter who created four books and whose works fetched thousands of pounds at charity auctions.

Roger was born in Cambridge, the son of Desmond, a quantity surveyor, and Eileen, who worked in catering, and he took an interest in the city’s buildings at a young age. After leaving the Perse school, and studying at the Manchester School of Architecture, he started work at ADP in London in 1983. He stayed for 38 years. As chairman, he helped to expand the practice and turn it into an employee-owned organisation.

The visitor reception at the Palace of Westminster
The visitor reception at the Palace of Westminster, an extension designed by Roger FitzGerald that was opened in 2008

His breakthrough commission was a swimming pool and extension in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. A number of prestigious projects followed, and Roger’s buildings rub shoulders with those by Sir Denys Lasdun and Sir Basil Spence.

Roger could conjure up an innovative concept while showing sensitivity to a historical context. He was responsible for converting Oxford Castle from a prison into a hotel in the 1990s, and for a visitor reception building for the Palace of Westminster, which opened in 2008. He was equally proud of the Forum in Southend, Essex, an integrated municipal and academic public library that opened in 2013.

Roger FitzGerald’s innovative design, with sedum roof, for Riverhead infants’ school in Sevenoaks, which opened in 2002
Roger FitzGerald’s innovative design, with sedum roof, for Riverhead infants’ school in Sevenoaks, which opened in 2002

In 1988, he married Lynne, his ultimate supporter in all matters creative. After starting a family they moved to Sevenoaks, Kent, into a house Roger designed, which initially raised eyebrows as it featured contemporary details including a giant circular window.

Roger became a passionate advocate for the town, campaigning for improvements to its built environment. His own design for Riverhead infants’ school was commended for its sweeping, sedum-covered roof which bedded into the Kentish landscape.

Roger FitzGerald’s painting of Ramsgate harbour
Roger FitzGerald’s painting of Ramsgate harbour, the cover image to his forthcoming book, Buildings of Kent

He further explored his love of buildings through painting. With tools as wide-ranging as scalpel blades and bits of card, he created characterful, vibrant street scenes. These were exhibited in locations from Somerset House to the Shard, and appeared in his books about the buildings of Britain, London and New York.

Roger set high ambitions. Even during his final weeks in hospital, he produced some fine ink drawings for what will be his final book, Buildings of Kent. Creativity was therapeutic to him, and he refused to dwell on his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Family and colleagues alike described him as calm, kind and funny – with a talent for impersonations.

He is survived by Lynne and their two sons – my brother, Will, and me – as well as his father and his siblings Janet, Diana and Robert.


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