Celebrated architect Sir Miles Warren has died at the age of 93.
Celebrated architect Sir Miles Warren has died.
Warren was one of New Zealand’s most influential architects, designing a series of striking and innovative buildings over many decades from the 1950s, including the Christchurch Town Hall.
His niece, Sarah Smith, confirmed that Warren died at the age of 93 late on Tuesday evening.
“He was an icon,” she said.
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She said architecture consumed his life.
“He was a bit of a character and he was so passionate about his work. That was his life.”
Gerard Smyth/Frank Film
Original Christchurch Town Hall architect Sir Miles Warren tours the restored Christchurch Town Hall ahead of its reopening. (Video first published February 2019)
Part of his legacy to New Zealand was the gifting of his Ōhinetahi homestead and gardens in trust to the nation, she said. He transformed and restored the homestead at the head of Lyttelton harbour over many decades.
“That is quite a special thing.”
Warren and Mahoney principal Peter Marshall said Warren had “made a significant difference to Christchurch, New Zealand and beyond”. Warren started his architecture practice in 1955 and joined forces with Maurice Mahoney to form the partnership in 1958.
“He is so well regarded and so integral to Warren and Mahoney being the practice it is today,’’ Marshall said.
“We often refer to his legacy and his manner and ways of going about engaging with clients and engaging with architecture and the passion he felt for it.”
Marshall also remembered Warren as a sometimes stern and sometimes mischievous character, with a driving passion for architecture.
“He could be very stern in the office. You really had to be on top of your game.
“But he had a great sense of humour. He could be a little bit mischievous and he was an amazing raconteur – always telling the most amazing stories.”
New Zealand Institute of Architects Te Kāhui Whaihanga president Judith Taylor said Warren’s death was a great loss for architecture.
“This is an enormous loss of a great architect for New Zealand and the profession. His generosity and support of the profession has been immeasurable,” she said.
“I know there will be great sadness across the profession on this news. Our thoughts are with the Warren family, friends and the profession.”
Architectural historian Jessica Halliday said Warren was a “true giant’’ of architecture.
“He is one of New Zealand’s greatest architects. That is undeniable,’’ she said.
“He changed architecture here forever and changed the way we think about and experience architecture.
“Anyone who has ever met him would remember his charm and wit.”
Warren was born in Christchurch in 1929 and started working at the office of architect Cecil Wood when he was 16, according to a biography issued by the New Zealand Institute of Architects. He moved to England in 1953 and worked at the London County Council, where he witnessed the birth of brutalist architecture.
After returning to New Zealand and establishing his design practice, Warren’s first major project was the Dorset St flats in Christchurch in 1956.
His practice went on to design a series of high profile buildings in the city, creating a form of brutalist architecture that became known as the “Christchurch School”. Major projects in Christchurch included College House, Harewood Crematorium, the practice office in Cambridge Tce, Canterbury Students Union, and the Christchurch Town Hall.
The practice also designed the Civic Offices in Rotorua, Television New Zealand Network Centre in Auckland and the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington.
He retired from the practice in 1995 but remained an active advocate for architecture.