Dezeen Magazine

David Mackay

Barcelona Olympics architect David Mackay dies aged 80

News: MBM Arquitectes co-founder David Mackay, one of the architects behind Barcelona's 1992 Olympic Village, has passed away at the age of 80.

The British-Irish architect is best known for projects completed in his adopted home city of Barcelona, including the recently completed design museum, but also worked on regeneration proposals across England, from London's Lea Valley to Plymouth.

Born in Eastbourne, Sussex, in 1933, Mackay studied architecture at Northern Polytechnic in Holloway, north London.

In the late 1950s he and his wife moved to Barcelona, where he began working with Spanish architects Josep Martorell and Oriol Bohigas. Four years later they rebranded the firm as MBM Arquitectes.

The firm gained international recognition with a series of small-scale public realm works completed throughout Barcelona in the 1980s, known as the city's "100 projects".

Barcelona Olympic Port (1985-1991)
Barcelona Olympic Port, 1991

They worked on the city masterplan for Barcelona's Olympic Games in 1992, for which they designed the Olympic Village and the Olympic Port. Mackay later moved into an apartment within the development.

In 2002 the architect oversaw the £2 billion regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley in east London, and in 2003 he became the lead architect for the redevelopment of Plymouth, south-west England.

He also authored two books on architecture – A Life in Cities: An Architectural Autobiography, published in 2009, followed by On Life and Architecture in 2013.

DHUB Museu del Disseny de Barcelona, 2013

Iain Connelly, president of the Royal Incorporation of Scottish Architects, has described Mackay as "one of the pre-eminent architects of his generation".

"David Mackay's work helped shape many cities and greatly influenced the evolution of European architecture and city planning. His many built projects and masterplans testify that he was an architect of consummate skill and sensitivity who was always determined that his work should serve people's needs and improve their lives," he said.

"He was undoubtedly a great architect, but more importantly, a thoroughly decent human being and someone it was a great privilege to know."

Mackay died in his sleep on Tues 11 November. His funeral will take place today in Barcelona.

Portrait is courtesy of RIAS.