Rice, Peter

Peter Rice (1935-1992)
Structural Engineer

Peter Rice, a structural engineer, was born on 16 June 1935 at 52 Castle Road, Dundalk, County Louth. He was educated at Newbridge College, County Kildare, and at The Queen’s University, Belfast, graduating in civil engineering, before joining Ove Arup & Partners in 1956. He thereafter advised on the design of some of the most significant buildings of the late twentieth century.

The Royal Institute of British Architects citation on the occasion of the award to Rice of their 1992 Gold Medal ran thus: ‘His work greatly advanced architecture, reaffirming the deep creative interconnection between humanism and science, art and technology’. Having worked on the design and construction of the Sydney Opera House, he designed the structure of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, where his innovative choice of cast steel enabled the scale of the large building to be sympathetic to the fabric of the city. The citation continued: ‘His passionate belief that technology is a tool to be used with imagination for the benefit of mankind has inspired a generation of designers of buildings of all disciplines’.

Peter Rice collaborated in the design of many buildings world-wide, including the Lloyd’s Building in London, Stansted Airport, the stadium at Bari in Italy, and the Pavilion of the Future at Expo ’92 in Seville. The writer of an obituary commented that ‘Rice was perhaps the James Joyce of structural engineering. His poetic invention, his ability to turn accepted ideas on their head and his rigorous mathematical and philosophical logic made him one of the most sought-after engineers of our times’.

Peter Rice died of a brain tumour on 25 October 1992 in London.

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