Kevin Roche, 96, got his start as architect of the Oakland Museum of California

The New York Times, March 3, 2019,

Paul Goldberger • Dublin-born Architect Kevin Roche “ … believed that because each building emerged out of a different situation, each called for something very different. It was a view he took from his mentor, Eero Saarinen, whose thriving architectural practice formed the foundation of Mr. Roche’s own.

“Mr. Roche was hired by Saarinen in 1950, and before long he became the architect’s chief design associate, working on projects like … the TWA Terminal at Kennedy Airport [and] Dulles International Airport, outside Washington.

When Saarinen died suddenly in 1961 at 51, it fell to Mr. Roche and John Dinkeloo, another Saarinen lieutenant, to keep the office going and complete Saarinen’s numerous unfinished works. As they began to take on new projects of their own, the Saarinen office transitioned into Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates.

“For all Mr. Roche’s delight in creating crisp, nimble architectural shapes in glass, some of his most notable early work came across as anything but light. For one of the most important projects he worked on with Saarinen, the John Deere headquarters in Moline, Ill., Mr. Roche proposed developing a kind of steel that could be allowed to rust naturally. The resulting rough, reddish-brown product, Cor-ten, became a common building material.

“Shortly after Saarinen died, Mr. Dinkeloo, Mr. Roche’s partner, persuaded him to enter a competition to design a new museum in Oakland (1968). His entry, envisioning a low concrete building consisting of a series of terraces with a park on the roof, won the competition, and Mr. Roche’s career as an independent architect had begun.

“In 1982, Mr. Roche was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, widely considered his profession’s highest honor.”

Read the complete obituary by Paul Goldberger here.

Scroll to Top