Neave Brown. Photo: Gareth Gardner. Courtesy: Royal Institute of British Architects.

Neave Brown (1929–2018)

The American-born British architect Neave Brown, celebrated internationally for his modernist and empathetic postwar public housing designs, has died. Last fall, the Royal Institute of British Architects awarded Brown the Royal Gold Medal for 2018 in recognition of his contribution to social housing. “His pioneering ideas firmly placed the community at the heart of each of his developments, giving residents shared gardens, their own front door, innovative flexible living spaces, and private outside space for every home,” RIBA president Ben Derbyshire announced when giving Brown the accolade, which is considered the highest honor an architect can receive in the United Kingdom. At the time, Brown was the only living UK architect with an entire catalogue of buildings listed for preservation.

Brown was born in Utica, New York, in 1929. He moved to England as a teenager and studied at the Architectural Association in London and then worked at Camden Council. It was there that Brown architected the Alexandra Road Estate, a large-scale housing scheme completed in 1978 that boasts low-rise ziggurat terraces, gardens, a school, a park, and 520 apartments. The complex, which Brown called “a piece of city,” is often referred to as his masterpiece and exemplifies the architect’s attention to both community and privacy. Other works designed by Brown include the Winscombe Street houses in London; the Zwolsestraat Development in Scheveningen, The Hague; and the Dunboyne Road Estate in Camden, where he lived with his wife.