So Long, Sir Richard MacCormac
Today we remember the celebrated Architect and long-time Spitalfields resident, Sir Richard Cornelius MacCormac, CBE, PPRIBA, FRSA, RA, whose funeral takes place in Christ Church this morning. Just two months ago, he published Two Houses in Spitalfields as a record of the adjoining properties that he and Jocasta Innes inhabited in Heneage St – each manifesting their owners’ contrasted sensibilities yet by their connection emblematic of the personal relationship which bound them together for thirty years.
Sir Richard MacCormac photographed at Southwark Station in 2013 by Dominic Harris
Born in Marylebone in 1938, Richard MacCormac came from a distinguished medical and naval family of Irish origin that included Queen Victoria’s House Physician. As a boy, he built model boats and then did his National Service in the Royal Navy. Possessing a life-long love for sailing, in recent years he owned a 1908 oyster-fishing smack that he sailed on the Thames Estuary.
Passionate to forge an humane version of Modernist architecture, Richard MacCormac worked on social housing projects in Merton in the nineteen-sixties before establishing his own practise in Spitalfields, MacCormac Jamieson Prichard, in 1972. Reconciling an Arts & Crafts appreciation for fine materials with Frank Lloyd’s delight in sympathetic geometry, he designed a series of notable buildings for Oxford & Cambridge colleges, including an accommodation block for Trinity College, Cambridge, that he considered his finest work. More recent projects included Southwark Station and the new Broadacasting House in Portland Place which succeeded in elegantly counterbalancing George Val Myers’ 1935 building, despite the meddling of BBC executives.
In Spitalfields, Richard MacCormac will be fondly remembered for his shrewd intelligence, wit and generosity of spirit. Within one month last year, he and Jocasta Innes each discovered they were afflicted with terminal cancer and both met these tragic circumstances with singular fortitude and strength of character.
Secret door in Richard MacCormac’s house that led to Jocasta Innes’ house
View back from Richard MacCormac’s house towards the secret door
Stairwell with display of medals belonging to Richard MacCormac’s ancestors
Model boat constructed by Richard MacCormac
Richard MacCormac’s library
Folding desk in Richard MacCormac’s study
Hallway of Jocasta Innes’ house
Jocasta Innes’ kitchen
Jocasta Innes’ library with portrait of her mother
Chest in Jocasta Innes’ bedroom
Secret door on the landing in Jocasta Innes’ house leading to Richard MacCormac’s house
“The two Spitalfields houses, and our lives, were bound together, continually touched by our shared interests. They have many characteristics in common – illusion, allusion, surprise, humour and, of course, colour, but with the distinct identities which reflect us both” – Richard MacCormac
All photographs except exterior shot © Jan Baldwin
Exterior photograph © Hélène Rollin
You may also like to read about