Issue date: 12 November 2003

ISSUE DATE: 12/11/03

The University of the West of England will award the honorary degree of Doctor of Design to George Robin Paget Ferguson this week. The honorary degree will be conferred at the Award Ceremony of the Faculty of the Built Environment on Friday 14 November at 2.45pm at Bristol Cathedral.

George Ferguson is President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Chairman of the Bristol-based practice, Acanthus Ferguson Mann. He was educated at Wellington College and at the School of Architecture at the University of Bristol. During that time he gained experience in architectural offices in London and Turkey and at the British Institute of Archaeology in Ankara.

Following a short period in local government town planning, with responsibility for urban design and conservation, George Ferguson built up his own architectural practice in the mid 1970’s leading to the formation of Ferguson Mann in 1979. In 1986, he founded a national network of practices called Acanthus. The work of the Acanthus Ferguson Mann practice ranges from fine historic building projects for such clients as the National Trust and the restoration of John Wood’s Palladian Prior Park Mansion in Bath, to cutting-edge contemporary design including the at-Bristol Millennium Project and the current conversion of the Royal William Yard in Plymouth for RIBA Client of the year, Urban Splash.

George Ferguson’s ‘Bristol Venice’ scheme for Bristol Harbourside, demonstrating the principles of urban renaissance, has become a cause celebre in urban design and planning circles. He was also the creator of the Bristol Millennium Mile, which links Temple Meads Railway Station with the SS Great Britain, and traces the symbolic missing mile on Brunel’s great rail and sea link between London and New York. He has carried out work in Germany, including historic building consultancy on the Reichstag project. His work and that of his practice has been recognised with many awards, including those of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Civic Trust, and the RIBA.

In the life of Bristol, his adopted city, George Ferguson plays a major role. He is the owner and creator of the Tobacco factory arts centre, which has made a major contribution to the regeneration of South Bristol. The project has redeveloped a former Imperial Tobacco Factory, to provide a nationally renowned theatre space, fame school, restaurant and bar, creative media workspace and loft apartments, including his own, which was recently featured on Channel 4’s Britain’s Best Homes. He was a founder and Chairman of the Exploratory, Britain’s first hands-on science centre that gave birth to Explore-at-Bristol. He is a former trustee of the Greater Bristol Foundation in support of which he initiated the High Sheriff’s fund for youth crime reduction schemes. He is President of the Avon Youth Association and Patron of Care and Repair.

George Ferguson has lectured, written and broadcast widely on architectural and environmental matters. He has also been involved in both local and national politics, being the first Liberal on Bristol City Council in the 1970’s and a parliamentary candidate for Bristol West in the 1980’s. In 1984 he wrote a booklet, entitled ‘Races Against Time’, which warned of the threats to the world environment and of the lack of sustainable energy transport and trade policies. Well known for his trademark red trousers, he is a keen photographer and lists amongst his many recreations: “travel, people, ideas and making things happen”.

In July 2003, George Ferguson became President of the RIBA: the first time in its history that a Bristol architect has led the profession.

The Honorary Degree is awarded in recognition of George Ferguson’s outstanding contribution to the civic life and culture of Bristol and the South West and his role as a leader of his profession nationally.


Editors notes

Photos can be obtained by contacting Sue Fox at Bristol Cathedral at 2.15pm on Friday 14 November.

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