Moira Gemmill

Tributes flood in for "extraordinary" designer Moira Gemmill after fatal cycling accident

British architects and designers are today paying tribute to Moira Gemmill, a major figure in the London architecture and design scene, who has died at the age of 55 after a fatal cycling accident.

Gemmill, who has been described as "visionary" and "highly respected" by former colleagues, was best known for holding the position of director of design at the V&A museum from 2002 to 2015.

She was responsible for the museum's Future Plan scheme, where she oversaw numerous architectural projects including the development of the Sackler Centre for arts education and the recent renovation of the Cast Courts gallery space.

She is also largely responsible for commissioning the museum's new outpost in Dundee, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

"I had the privilege of working very closely with Moira for over four years," said architect Amanda Levete, who worked alongside Gemmill on the V&A Exhibition Road project.

"Moira was extraordinary. Her commitment to architecture and design excellence, her knowledge, her empathy and her ambition to push the boundaries was matched by her rightly tenacious hold over the public purse," she said.

"Under her leadership the V&A got an enviable reputation for commissioning up and coming architects and designers," Amanda Baillieu, the former editor of Building Design, told Dezeen. "It's a tremendous loss and we will all miss her."

It is believed that Gemmill was cycling to work at St James Palace in London when she was fatally knocked by a heavy goods vehicle near the north Lambeth Bridge roundabout yesterday morning.

Her unexpected death has prompted an outcry of support on Twitter. Michelle Ogundehin, editor in chief of Elle Decoration UK, described it as "a senseless, tragic loss", while NLA chair and cycling campaigner Peter Murray said it was "dreadful".

Having grown up in Kintyre on the west coast of Scotland, Gemmill had gone on to study graphic design and photography at the Glasgow School of Art before enrolling as the head of programme support at the Aberdeen Art Gallery in the 1980s.

Since leaving the V&A in January, Gemmill had undertaken a new role as director of capital programmes at the Royal Collection Trust, where she had been working to deliver major projects at Windsor Castle and at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.