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ABOUT THE AWARDS > Chairman Remembered

The Chairman remembered
Graham Pye 1939 - 2009

Graham Pye

To chair a large panel of judges with divergent priorities ought to be a challenge. It was one Graham Pye enjoyed, sticking with it from 1996 to 2009, always enthusiastic and driven by his conviction that the Housing Design Awards would uncover new treasures each year.

Graham was the ideal leader because his interests covered so much ground. He was a housebuilder on both sides of the Atlantic as head of the Pye Group, building new homes across southern England and British Columbia. He had been president of the Home Builders Federation, twice, in 1985 and 1990. He had been a director of the NHBC from 1998 to 2004. He was even a trustee of Turn End in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, an arrangement of three houses and gardens where architect Peter Aldington lives which opens to visitors as a high-water mark for post-war residential architecture in the UK. He was also the only one among the judges who understood civil engineering, thanks to his degree.

What really made Graham tick was plan form. He was rarely taken by elevational treatments, assessing the very traditional and the self-consciously modern with equanimity, a legacy of working through 50 years of architectural styles. What always exercised him was the layout and plan. If the later did not work, then the scheme’s odds of winning an award lengthened dramatically. Each year during the early rounds of judging when studying the A1 submissions, Graham’s eyes would go straight to the plans. Entrants who had chosen to ignore the explicit criteria to include them were damned.

He has left a vital legacy to the Awards, bringing in partners such as the RTPI and RICS achieving a genuine pan-industry process, making them stronger than they ever have been.

David Birkbeck
Rapporteur, Housing Design Awards