Dezeen Magazine

Architect and London Eye entrepreneur David Marks dies

Marks Barfield Architects co-founder David Marks has died aged 64, following a long illness.

Marks, who alongside wife and partner Julia Barfield was the developer and architect of the London Eye, passed away on 6 October 2017.

He leaves behind a legacy of projects that also includes the Treetop Walkway at Kew Gardens and the i360 observation tower in Brighton.

In a statement released today, Marks Barfield Architects paid tribute to Marks, as "an architect whose work was founded in innovation, excellence of design and close collaboration with other disciplines, in particular with engineers".

"He believed that well designed buildings and structures can improve the quality of people’s lives," said the London-based studio. "He leaves a legacy of much-loved landmarks which demonstrate his belief in the human spirit and his wish to elevate minds as well to the spirit."

"He transformed skylines, and his vision will continue to offer inspiration and delight to future generations."

David Marks and his wife and partner Julia Barfield were not only the architects behind the London Eye, the pair also acted as the developer for the project

Marks was born in 1952 in Stockholm, Sweden, but grew up in Geneva, Switzerland. He moved to London in 1972, after winning a place at the Architectural Association. It was here he met Barfield, who he spent his year out with, working on community-focused projects in South America.

The pair married in 1981, although they didn't establish their practice together until 1989. In the period between, Marks spent some time working for Richard Rogers.

Marks and Barfield embarked on the London Eye project after designing it for a Sunday Times ideas competition. Not only did they design the structure, they found the site themselves, and mortgaged their home to cover the initial costs.

British Airways i360 observation tower
The pair were also the driving force behind the i360 observation tower in Brighton

The project was so successful that is has spawned replicas all over the world, including the Singapore Flyer, the Star of Nanchang in China and the proposed New York Wheel. Marks and Barfield also followed the same formula to build the i360 in Brighton.

"David's belief in the power of architecture to have a transformative effect on civic life and his determination to finish what he started made him fearless in taking responsibility for projects," added his studio.

"With Julia's support he took a share of the financial risk of projects, and dedicated time and effort to driving them forward."

A few industry figures have already paid tribute to Marks on Twitter.

Architectural photographer Richard Bryant tweeted: "A dreadful loss, such a wonderful talent. My thoughts are with his family and friends".

Meanwhile architectural PR firm chief Leanne Tritton wrote: "On behalf of @INGMEDIA our deepest condolences to Julia, family and the team @MarksBarfield. On every level David Marks was a remarkable man. Someone we all looked up to."

Marks Barfield Architects will continue to operate under the steer of Julia Barfield, the firm has announced, with support from directors Ian Rudolph, Gemma Collins, Ian Crockford and Magali Thompson.

The firm recently completed a primary school for the University of Cambridge, and is working on a new mosque for the same city, due to complete in 2018.

Photograph of David Marks is by Gary Eastwood.