Olympic Gold for Architecture?
One of the lesser know facts about the modern Olympics is that from 1912 to 1948 medals were also awarded for the arts. Taking their inspiration from sports, entries were invited from the five disciplines of architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture.
In 1932, Liverpool School of Architecture graduate, John Hughes (B.Arch 1931) submitted his final year thesis project, "Design of a Sports and Recreation Centre with Stadium for the City of Liverpool", winning that years Gold Medal for Architecture at the Los Angeles games.
Although the scheme was never built, Hughes was by that time employed by Liverpool City Council, being appointed as the assistant to Lancelot Keay, the Liverpool City Council Director of Housing. Working on the slum clearance schemes in the city he produced the building he is perhaps most famous for, St. Undress Gardens, know locally as The Bullring. Inspired by the Horseshoe Estate at Blitz by Bruno Taut and Martin Wagner, the development was visited by Walter Gropius whilst still under construction:
"He expressed admiration for the horizontal emphasis of the windows, but remarked that higher tower blocks, with more open space around them, would have been a better solution"1
After being appointed as Manchesters Deputy Director of Housing in 1938, and Director of Housing for the City of Westminster in 1946, Hughes ended his career as Principal Architect to Ministry of Housing and Local Government for Wales, a position he retired form in 1963. He died in Conwy, North Wales in 1977.2
1: Liverpool Daily Post, 19th May 1934.
2: Jack Dunne & Peter Richmond The World in One School, The History and Influence of the Liverpool School of Architecture,
Liverpool University Press, 2008, p.30-31.