Will Alsop was fun. But he was seriously interested in green building and making the world a better place. His partner Marcos Rosello notes in the Guardian that "he had an exceptional ability to recognise particular strengths in individuals which he would draw out and nurture. His design ethos, essentially to ‘make life better’, is evident in the architecture of his buildings and their surrounding communities. We will miss him greatly."
TreeHugger covered him because of his work with Bioregional Quintain, where he designed around the late lamented Bioregional's principles of one planet living that go far beyond LEED, but include being zero carbon, zero waste, supporting local food and the health and happiness of its residents. It was and is a wonderful vision.
Alsop had a huge influence in my home, Toronto, where he designed the famous tabletop at OCAD university. It changed Toronto in a lot of ways, making people here realize that architecture can be fun. Even Alsop, who originally disliked Toronto, noted that the city had changed, telling the Star: "Right now I’m doing nothing else in Toronto — which I’m sad about,” he said. “Unlike 2000, when I didn’t like to come, I like to come now."
Alsop was never a superstar in architecture and had many reverses along the way. Oliver Wainwright, in his obit, notes that he "shook the establishment with his wild and wacky visions, which were often too harebrained for reality to bear." Wainwright notes:
To his critics, Alsop was a reckless pied piper, duping desperate mayors of struggling cities into commissioning madcap schemes they could never hope to build. To his fans he was a mischievous breath of fresh air, injecting a welcome dose of colour and energy into a profession that was all too beige.
Many architects find success late in life so a death at 70 is seriously a career cut short, but like many architects, Alsop was, according to Wainwright, "never to be found far from a bottle of wine and packet of cigarettes."
But in his work with BioRegional he profoundly influenced sustainable design, showing that it could be fun, accessible and exciting. He will be missed.