Former Gresham’s school pupil and respected architect and academy president dies

PUBLISHED: 10:46 30 August 2014 | UPDATED: 10:47 30 August 2014

Sir Philip Dowson

Sir Philip Dowson


A Gresham’s School pupil who went on to become one of Britain’s most respected architects has died just days after his 90th birthday.

Sir Philip Dowson attended the school, in Holt, and then spent a year reading mathematics at University College, Oxford, before joining the Royal Navy during the Second World War and serving in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres.

He returned to study art history at Clare College, Cambridge, from 1947 to 1950, and then trained at the Architectural Association.

Sir Philip joined the engineering firm Ove Arup and Partners in 1953 as an architect, and in 1963, with Ove Arup, Ronald Hobbs and Derek Sugden, became a founding partner and later chief architect of Arup Associates.

His entry on the Royal Academy of Arts website said: “Under Dowson’s guidance Arup Associates developed a distinctive approach to architecture which used the rational, even scientific conditions of function, construction technique and the character of materials as the basis of design.

“Their buildings quickly won plaudits for their clarity, logic and elegance.

“Arup Associates’ approach appealed in particular to clients wanting large and complex buildings, such as institutional headquarters and university departments.”

He was president of the Royal Academy of Arts from 1993 to 1999.

He is survived by his wife, Lady Sarah Dowson MBE, his son, two daughters, and six grandchildren.

The funeral is to be private, and a memorial service will be announced at a future date.

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