Christopher Alexander, the vastly influential British-American architect, educator, and theorist whose writings on human-centered design had an outsized affect not solely on structure however on city design, laptop science, and past, has died at 85 in West Sussex, England, following a protracted sickness.
Elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996, Alexander was conferred a substantial variety of prestigious awards and accolades for his wide-ranging contributions to the sphere together with the American Institute of Architects’ inaugural Medal for Analysis in 1972, the 2009 Vincent Scully Prize, and a World Award for Sustainable Structure in 2014. In a dispatch written by Robert Steuteville sharing information of Alexander’s demise for the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU)’s on-line journal Public Sq., Alexander is heralded as a “towering determine in structure and urbanism” and “one of many greatest influences on the New Urbanism motion.” In 2006, the CNU awarded Alexander with one among its first two Athena Medals together with Léon Krier. Subsequent Athena Medal awardees embody, amongst others, Denise Scott Brown, Robert A.M. Stern, Sinclair Black, Prince Charles, and the late Jaquelin T. Robertson.
Born in Vienna in 1936 to a Jewish mom and Catholic father, Alexander and his mother and father emigrated from Austria to England on the onset of World Battle II. Following his research at Trinity School, Cambridge, the place he earned his bachelor’s diploma in Structure and a grasp’s diploma in Arithmetic, Alexander relocated to the USA in 1958 the place he earned his doctorate in Structure at Harvard College—the first-ever PhD of its form awarded by the establishment. Alexander spent a lot of his grownup life within the San Francisco Bay Space the place he practiced structure, penned his many writings on design principle, and taught on the College of California, Berkeley. He was additionally an Emeritus Professor of Structure at UC Berkeley on the time of his demise.
In 1967, Alexander based the Berkeley-based nonprofit Middle for Environmental Construction (CES) and in 2020 established PatternLanguage.com.
Whereas Alexander designed lots of of buildings throughout the globe throughout his lifetime together with the West Dean Guests Centre in West Sussex, the Eishin Gakuen highschool campus outdoors of Tokyo, and the Sala Home in Albany, California, he’s maybe finest recognized for his extensively learn (and infrequently not controversial) writings on design and constructing together with the 1965 essay a Metropolis is Not a Tree (republished and expanded into guide type in 2015), The Timeless Approach of Constructing (1979), and the seminal 1977 work A Sample Language: Cities, Buildings, Building, which established his popularity because the father of the sample language motion in laptop science. Described by the New York Occasions in 2000 as a “people bible for house builders,” the enduring affect of A Sample Language (co-authored by Alexander with CES colleagues Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein) extends, as talked about, past structure and concrete design. The tome, among the many first full books written in hypertext format, impressed laptop programmer Ward Cunningham to develop the primary wiki in 1994. Will Wright, the creator of SimCity, has additionally credited Alexander’s work as serving as a direct inspiration for the event of the favored open-ended city-building online game.
Alexander’s final printed work throughout his lifetime was 2012’s The Battle for the Life and Great thing about the Earth: A Wrestle Between Two World-Techniques.
“There may be one timeless approach of constructing. It’s 1000’s of years previous, and the identical right now because it has all the time been,” wrote Alexander in The Timeless Approach of Constructing. “The good conventional buildings of the previous, the villages and tents and temples through which man feels at house, have all the time been made by individuals who had been very near the middle of this fashion. And as you will note, this fashion will lead anybody who seems for it to constructing that are themselves as historical of their type because the bushes and hills, and as our faces are.”
This text serves as a brief announcement of Alexander’s demise—a extra complete tribute will observe within the coming days.