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Sector mourns death of John Hopkins

By Jez Abbott Thursday, 31 January 2013

Leading landscape architect who helped to shape Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park dies aged 59 at home in Philadelphia.

John Hopkins published a book on the making of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park - image: LDA Design

John Hopkins published a book on the making of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park - image: LDA Design

Tributes have been paid to John Hopkins, the highly acclaimed landscape architect and key design professional behind the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, who died last weekend.

Hopkins, who died aged 59 in the USA, was a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He was project director for the Olympic parklands and public realm at the Olympic Delivery Authority from 2007 to 2011.

Before joining the Olympic project he was a partner in LDA Design, heading up its London office. But in addition to the UK and USA, he practised in Malaysia, Australia and Hong Kong, and he wrote several publications.

Colleague and friend Peter Neal said: "It was incredibly sad news and a complete shock to hear of John's death last week. He was a man of immense talent and I had the pleasure of knowing and working with him in many ways for more than 20 years.

"One of his greatest legacies will be his work on the hugely successful Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and I am extremely grateful that we were able to publish a book on the project together just two months ago."

Landscape Institute president Sue Ilman added: "John not only inspired a generation but also inspired great admiration and affection. I'm sad at the loss of a person with such vision, clear thinking and so many plans he still wished to pursue."

LDA Design senior partner Neil Mattinson praised Hopkins' intellectual and inspirational approach to landscape architecture, his talent in communicating ideas and his commitment to the environmental ethic expressed in books, poetry and music.

"We are fortunate to have the legacy of his passionate beliefs and, of course, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the recently published book on the making of the park that John co-authored with Peter Neal," said Mattinson.

"It is a great sadness that his next book on environmental politics and ecological economics will not be completed by him. We remember John as a colleague, a client and most of all a very good friend. He will be sadly missed."

University of Pennsylvania dean of the school of design Marilyn Jordan Taylor said Hopkins died over the weekend of natural causes at his home in Philadelphia. He was a "wonderful and welcome addition" to the design school for the past 18 months.

She added: "We were eagerly anticipating celebrating his book, The Making of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It will be part of his legacy of friendship and scholarship here at Penn and in the world of landscape architecture.

"John's work in both the public and private sectors was hugely impressive. He was a strong advocate for landscape architecture's potential to reorient the world economy based on environmental capacity and global equity through planning and design."

Hopkins won several awards including the Landscape Institute's Peter Youngman Award for outstanding contribution to landscape and prizes from the Royal Town Planning Institute, Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects and the Civic Trust. He is survived by his children, Rosie and Jack, and fiancee Laura Adams, executive director at Shelby Farms Park Conservancy. She said: "John never let us forget our responsibility toward our environment. But he had the patience and humility to plan and design projects whose real benefit can only be truly appreciated by a generation he'll never know."

Olympic tribute

"John's contribution towards the creation of the UK's largest new urban park for more than a century is immeasurable. His breadth of knowledge in landscape architecture ensured the parklands were the hidden treasure for many spectators during the Olympic Games and his energy will live on as the park reopens for generations of visitors to enjoy."

Dennis Hone, chief executive, London Legacy Development Corporation

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