RICHARD RAINES 1929 - 2016


Richard (Dick) Raines who worked as a lead architect at Arup Associates in the 1970-80s has died. When I first arrived at Arup Associates as a graduate in the early 1970’s we were based in a renovated film warehouse to the North of Soho Square, surrounded largely by the demi-monde and seedy bars and establishments. In the course of my induction I was introduced to Dick and was impressed and a little scared by his forceful demeanour but thought his dress sense splendid. Dick was sartorially the most elegantly attired in the firm, which had a certain Bohemian if not louche air amongst its members that at the time included Architects, Engineers, Interior Designers and Quantity Surveyors working together in groups on a project. These were still the salad days of the practice, a time of new ideas and ways of building, a broad portfolio of building types and Ove himself unexpectedly appearing at your drawing board.

In the early 1980’s I got to know Dick well and worked with him with others, including the architects James Burland, Mike Lowe and Graeme Smart when we were designing a new urban quarter in Bab Al Sheikh, Baghdad, in joint venture with a German practice. In the 70’s and 80’s the Western powers supported the Baathist regime and the foundations were under construction when the first Iraq/Iran war broke out. The foundations still exist, however the urban quarter, which was exhibited at the Venice Biennale of 1980, was never built.

Dick’s really significant project at Arup’s was a commercial office project, Bush Lane House in Cannon Street, The City of London for Trafalgar House built in 1977. This was an eight storey building elevated above the street to accommodate future London Underground halls and was one of the first speculative office commissions and first City project for Arup Associates. The complexities of the site’s subterranean requirements only allowed the foundations to be concentrated in four places to avoid the existing underground tunnels of the Circle Line and the proposed Fleet Line. The building was also within the restrictions of viewing corridors that limited its height.

 Dick had formed a working relationship and friendship with Mike Eatherley one of Arup Associates talented Structural Engineers in Group 4 and it was this synthesis of minds that created this extraordinary structure.

What emerged was a proto-hi tech building, of unique appearance, comprising a stainless steel diagrid exoskeleton floating above street level, supported only by four pairs of perimeter columns creating the main structural frame for the building fabric. The stainless steel hollow tube exoskeleton, its columns and refined junctions, established the buildings extraordinary street presence and to necessarily fire protect the exposed steelwork, the diagrid and columns were filled with water and antifreeze, which in the event of a fire would be pumped through the structure, avoiding structural failure by cooling the steel. Dick was fastidious on every detail from the building fabric to its fit out and tenacious to the extent that the graphic designers Pentagram under his direction designed a special font for the building’s signage.

Dick born in Savannah, Georgia, was a graduate of the Architectural Association and prior to Arup Associates worked for the distinguished firm Architects Co-Partnership on Dunelm House, Durham (1965) adjacent to Ove Arup’s Kingsgate Bridge. Both of which are a tour de force of concrete construction and Pevsner described Dunelm House as ‘Brutalist in tradition but not brutal in the landscape…. The elements though bold are sensitively composed’. Dick was the complete modernist, collected furniture by Alvar and Aino Aalto, had a love for the Arts and whose musical tastes ranged from Stockhausen to Miles Davis and Lennie Tristano.

He was also a great sportsman, a member of both The MCC and Queen’s Club. He tried to explain to us the subtleties of American Football without success. When he was more active he played ‘Real Tennis’, the original version of lawn tennis, which had its origins in 16th c French and English courts; an unusual game for a man wedded to modernity…

A group of us used to meet for lunch, a kind of irregular Algonquin Round Table for architects and engineers with a little more time on their hands. I shall miss his company and moments such as Dick sending back his espresso on the basis there was a lack of crema on the surface, a man who did not tolerate the inept even in coffee. To me he was an original and a real southern gentleman.

Words by Mick Brundle