Rick Mather has designed striking modern additions to a number of Great Britain’s most venerable cultural storehouses, among them Sir John Soane’s Dulwich Picture Gallery, the Wallace Collection and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. He is the creative force behind the recent transformation of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, which reopened to critical acclaim in November following a £61 million (approximately $99 million) expansion.
As a result of such highly visible projects, Mather is today widely known for his virtuoso use of glass as a dematerialized wall and visual extension to street activity. These “vanishing” glass walls, as well as curving glass roofs and circular skylights, are strategies he has employed to align design with – rather than against – a building’s context and history. As Hugh Pearman, architecture critic for the Sunday Times of London, put it, the virtue of Mather’s work lies in the way it accepts the complexity of the architectural problem in present-day conditions: “Mather’s work is Modernist… with references, allusions and compositional devices. It is practical and serious in its response to the technical and social aspects of the architectural program.”
Born and raised in Portland, Ore., Mather moved to London in 1963 and founded his own architectural practice 10 years later. In 1980, he was tapped for a large-scale public project, the design of a new school of computer science for the University of East Anglia, which led to a series of building commissions, including a 25-year development plan to take the institution well into the 21st century. This led to other large-scale master-planning assignments, including those for the Southbank Centre in London, Europe’s largest performing and visual arts complex (ongoing); and the World Heritage Site Maritime Greenwich.
Rick Mather studied architecture in the United States and urban design at the Architectural Association in London. He is a former trustee of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the British Architectural Library Trust, and he has previously served on the Councils of the Architectural Association and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). From 2001 to 2003, he served as a member of RIBA’s Royal Gold Medal and Honorary Fellows Committee. Other professional activities include service as RIBA external examiner to several schools of architecture and teaching assignments at the Architectural Association, University College London, University of Westminster, and Harvard Graduate School of Design, and as the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia.
Rick Mather Architects has received many awards for its architecture, ranging from this year’s RIBA Award for the Girls Boarding Houses, Stowe School (Buckingham, England), to the Business Week–Architectural Record Awards 2001 sponsored by the American Institute of Architects for his work on the Dulwich Picture Gallery. In 2009 Rick Mather Architects was awarded BD’s Public Building Architect of the Year.
Additional information on Rick Mather Architects may be found on the Web at www.rickmather.com.