In memory of John Thompson, 1944 – 2022

We are hugely saddened to learn of the passing of our Honorary President and Founding Chairman, John Thompson, after a long illness. In the coming months we will publish a special edition of Here & Now with memories of John.

John was already a hugely respected architect in 2006 when he was asked by George Ferguson during his term as President of the RIBA to establish an organisation to promote urbanism. Back in 1969 he had founded Hunt Thompson Associates with Bernard Hunt and later in 1994 he established JTP.

He was already an inspiration to many of us with projects like Lea View House in Hackney with its new way of doing community architecture. He set up an office on the estate in order to work in partnership with tenants. Charles Knevitt wrote of the project in The Times saying: ‘Pride, dignity, and self-respect have been restored at Lea View and community architecture was the process by which it came about.’

All of JTP’s projects, even later projects in China, were based around a community planning weekend, headed by an indefatigable John. He bought the same energy and ethos to the Academy of Urbanism and was hugely instrumental in the direction and character of organisation in its early years. Indeed, without his vision, tenacity and leadership, and his uncanny ability to secure sponsorship, it is difficult to see how we would be where we are.

John set the tone, ambition, and even the style of the Academy from the outset, in our events, Awards and Congress activity. John continued to be actively involved after stepping down from the Chair in 2010, and even after his illness was diagnosed in 2015.

Retiring Chair Andrew Burrell said: 

‘we have lost an exemplary urbanist whose passion for great placemaking lit a spark among so many of us. Thanks John, for the inspiration and leadership over many years’.

Vice Chair, and incoming Chair, Jas Atwal  said:

‘This is an extremely sad time and our sympathies go out to Nova and the family, as well as to John’s JTP colleagues. The Academy is one of John’s great legacies, which we have a duty to sustain and enrich. The whole Academy mourns the loss of a great urbanist, leader and friend.’