Do Architects Retire?

There's a famous adage in the world of architecture that architects never retire, they drop dead with a pencil in their hand. This was almost literally the case with my own father who passed away 10 years ago this October. As he lay ill in hospital, he was far more interested in sketching buildings and talking to me about his designs than anything else.

Architecture is most definitely a calling rather than a career. Architects are driven to shape the world around them, and my father was very typical in this regard. The career endings are even more grim for famous architects:

Le Corbusier

Famous as a pioneer of Modernist architecture, with a name that translates as 'The Raven', Le Corbusier drowned at the age of 77 after going for a swim in the Mediterranean.

Antoni Gaudi

Architect of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona which is still being worked on today, Gaudi was run over by a tram on his way to work.

Carlo Scarpa

Buried standing upright, Scarpa died after falling down a flight of concrete stairs.

Aldo Rossi

Rossi was the first Italian architect to win the Pritzker Prize; He died following a car accident in 1997.

George Meikle Kemp

The self-taught Scottish architect died after falling into a canal on the way to visit a builder on a foggy night.

Anecdotally it seems that I'll never retire, given the passion for creativity that runs through all architects. Worse still, it seems that if I ever become famous for my work, that I may meet a grizzly or untimely end . . .

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