Roger Fitzgerald, my father and former president of the ADP, died in July at the age of 63, after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year. He worked at the clinic for 38 years, retiring in 2021 as the longest-serving employee. His projects included the conversion of Oxford Castle, the buildings and masterplan for the University of Sussex, and the Visitor Reception Center for the Palace of Westminster.
After being appointed as president in 2001, Roger helped expand ADP With new studios in the UK as well as in India and Cyprus. Help the business transition to the current employee ownership model, and instigate a comprehensive system of design review. He also championed sustainability through his architecture, much of which has been implemented for schools and universities.
Born in Cambridge in 1959, Roger showed artistic talents at an early age, as well as an interest in buildings in his city. His father was a quantity surveyor and would take his sons to visit construction sites on weekends. Roger’s photo albums as a young man reveal that he was always interested in how buildings were created – including his all-time favorite Pompidou Centre.
Trained at Manchester School of Architecture, he made lifelong friends and met his future wife Lynn while living in the city. In 1983, he began working in London at the ADP – a practice that had previously denied his application as a student – and never left it.
Roger thought his amazing project, at age 27, was a pool extension for a private home near Henley-on-Thames: a building that he shared a National Concrete Society award with with Tate St Ives. Among his later award-winning schemes was a sedum-roofed design for Riverhead Infants School, which settled into the surrounding landscape thanks to its sweeping form.
In other academia, Roger’s work sits alongside that of some of the greats. Its development on King Street in Cambridge aligns with a building designed by Dennis Lasdon. His portfolio at the University of Sussex has been designed to evoke earlier architecture by Basil Spence.
Roger has often been asked to work in a sensitive historical context. He oversaw the conversion of Oxford Castle from a prison into a hotel in the 1990s, as well as the visitors’ reception building for the Palace of Westminster, which opened in 2008 and remains the palace’s only significant extension.
Likewise, Roger enjoyed the opportunity to craft an entirely contemporary approach. He was proud of the Forum in Southend, Essex, a municipal and academic public library that opened in 2013.
Roger moved from London with his young family in 1994, to a contemporary home he designed in Seven Oaks, Kent. He became a city hero, helping create a database of “locally listed” buildings to protect the local authority, and campaigning to improve the built environment.
Roger is best known for his distinctive conceptual schemes. He avoided computer-aided design while this was taking off early in his career, and continued to advocate a manual approach to design throughout his working life. He encouraged ADP employees to explore their creative talents, and organized an annual company-wide art challenge for the company’s charitable partner, Marudyan.
He exhibited his own paintings frequently, both at Sevenoaks and at a variety of London locations from Shard to Somerset House. He used his own artwork to illustrate four books he had authored, which focused on the buildings of Britain, London, New York and Kent.
Roger planned to use his retirement to spend more time with Lane, exploring Kent and other places, as well as gardening, cycling, and developing his art. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February 2021 but faced this cruel disease with calmness, humor and distinctive stoicism.
While in hospital in Tunbridge Wells, Roger spent some of his last days enjoying excerpts from his favorite book, Honeywood . profile, a comic novel by H.B. Creswell that tells the story of a disturbing project of an apprentice architect. As he continued to draw sketches, in a tireless effort to finish his last book, Kent buildings. He stipulated that all his profits from this work – and the exhibition associated with it – be donated to the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK.
He also made sure to write down dozens of projects he has been involved in throughout his career, which show his extensive legacy. After Roger’s untimely death, his friends and former colleagues praised his kindness, decisive leadership, and quiet intelligence.