The first time I walked into a building by Irish-American architect Kevin Roche (1922-2019) who passed yesterday, was memorable. It was the striking courtyard of the American Wing at the Met Museum, which to this day I find breathtaking and inspiring, one of the my favorite spots at the Museum. Roche belonged to a generation of architects who established a distinctive language for corporate modernism postwar America, based on the lessons learnt from the fathers of the Modern Movement. The Pritzker Prize recipient (1982) created many substantial projects, including IBM, the Ford Foundation, and Shiodome City Center, but the transformation of the Met has brought his oeuvre to the attention of millions visiting the Museum every year. Roche began to design the master plan of the Richard Morris Hunt's building in 1967, changing the direction of the building from its formal masonry classicism into a greenhouse-like additions, which have opened the building to Central Park, changing the entire experience of visiting its galleries. His additions included the courtyard of the American Wing, the Lehman Pavilion with its skylighted court; the Sackler Wing built for the Temple of Dendur; the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing; and the Andre Meyer Galleries above. At the beginning of his career, Roche intersected with those who influenced him into the direction he chose: he completed his postgraduate studies at the IIT under Mies ven der Rohe, and then worked for Eero Saarinen, when he built both the Gateway Arch in St.Louis and the TWA Terminal in New York. Kevin Roche will be remembered for his role in shaping the built fabric of corporate America.
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