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In memoriam: Professor Lionel March (1934-2018)

last modified Feb 22, 2018 10:36 AM

We are sad to announce that Professor Lionel March passed away on the evening of 20 February. Professor March was the Founding Director of the Centre for Land Use and Built Form Studies, which was the first research centre in Architecture in the UK, and has since become the Martin Centre and the research arm of the Department.

After a distinguished career in the UK, Canada and the United States Professor March retired as Emeritus Professor in Design and Computation at the University of California and returned to the Fens.

As a schoolboy, Lionel March’s mathematical work had attracted the admiration of Alan Turing and, when he went up to Magdalene College, Cambridge, it was to read mathematics. However, after one year, he transferred to architecture. During this period he was designer for a number of plays and operas, including two in London, at Sadler’s Wells.

Some of his early work in serial art was the subject of an ICA exhibition in 1962. He was the designer both of the University’s Cambridge plan of 1962 and, working in the studio of Leslie Martin, of the Whitehall plan of 1964. It was while working on the latter that he hit on the court and pavilion theory, developed with Martin, applied in practice by Richard MacCormac and rediscovered in 1999 by the Urban Task Force.

March was a pioneer in connecting design with  computation, and he founded “Environment and Planning B” which has since become the top academic journal in this field. Among his other interests was the work of Rudolph Schindler (he lived in Schindler’s How House) and classical mathematics – which he used to correct Wittkower’s interpretations fifty years earlier.