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Richardson, Sir Albert Edward

Richardson, Sir Albert Edward (1880–1964). English architect, teacher, and writer, he worked (1898–1902) in the offices of Evelyn Hellicar (1862–1929), Stokes (1902–3), and Verity (1903–6—from whom he acquired an enthusiasm for French Classical architecture, particularly Néo-Grec). Among his early works were the façade of the Regent Street Polytechnic, London (executed 1908–9 after he had established his own practice with Charles Lovett Gill (1880–1960) ), the New Theatre (later Opera House), Manchester (1911–13—in which the influence of both C. R. Cockerell and Hittorff may be detected), and the pioneering stripped-Classical Moorgate Hall, Finsbury Pavement, London (1913–17—demol-ished 1988). In 1914 appeared his Monumental Classic Architecture in Great Britain and Ireland during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, which helped to foster an appreciation of the work of Cockerell, Soane, and others, and a return to Classicism (especially Neo-Classicism) in architectural taste. After the 1914–18 war Richardson became Professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University of London, a position he held until 1946. The firm of Richardson & Gill was responsible for numerous works, including Leith House, Gresham Street (1924), St Margaret's House, Wells Street (1930–2), and Russell Square House (1939–41), all in London, and the Church of the Holy Cross, Greenford, Mddx. (1939–42—a remarkable building with interesting timber-work). After the 1939–45 war Gill was replaced by Richardson's son-in-law, Eric Alfred Scholefield Houfe (1911–c. 1995), and several London buildings resulted, including Chancery House, Chancery Lane (1946–53), and the AEI Building, Grosvenor Place, Belgravia (1956–8—with Wimperis, Simpson, & Fyffe, which despite Pevsner's comment that it was ‘almost grotesquely reactionary’, has stood the test of time). Many of Richardson's domestic commissions were in a refined late-Georgian or Regency style, but for his larger works he employed an understated stripped Classicism that was slightly reminiscent of some of Perret's better work. In his later years in the 1950s and 1960s he was increasingly reviled by those who preferred the dogmas of International Modernism. He himself was contemptuous of the intellectual pretensions of the Modern Movement cult, and especially saw that the followers of Le Corbusier and Gropius were creating environmental disasters and urban deserts. Despite such opposition, he produced many fine buildings that are once more becoming appreciated, not least because, unlike much of the stuff he despised, they have worn well. These include the noble Bracken House, Cannon Street (built 1955–9 for the Financial Times (Pevsner found it ‘puzzling’), with a new core by Hopkins (1988–91) for the Obayashi Corporation); the restoration (after bomb damage) and enlargement of Trinity House, Trinity Square (1952–3); the well-considered restoration of the bombed Livery-Hall of the Merchant Taylors' Company, Threadneedle Street (1953–9); and many distinguished and finely-composed works. He also restored several war-damaged churches. Other books by him include London Houses from 1660 to 1820 (1911—with Gill), Regional Architecture of the West of England (1924—also with Gill), Georgian England (1931), An Introduction to Georgian Architecture (1949), Southill, A Regency House (1951), Robert Mylne, Architect and Engineer, 1733 to 1811 (1955), and (with Hector Corfiato (1893–1963)) The Art of Architecture (1938) and Design in Civil Architecture (1948). He also wrote (with Harold Donaldson Eberlein (1875–1942)) The English Inn Past & Present (1925).

Bibliography

Architectural Review, cxl/835 (Sept. 1966), 199–205;
Houfe (1980);
Houfe et al. (1999);
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
RIBA Journal (Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects), ser. 3, xxxi/9 (8 Mar. 1924), 267–74;
A. Richardson (1914, 1955);
Service (ed.) (1975);
Jane Turner (1996)

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