28 Apr 2018

Renowned architect David Mitchell has died

6:24 am on 28 April 2018

Renowned New Zealand architect David Mitchell has died in Auckland at the age of 77.

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Photo: Jane Ussher

Mr Mitchell's career spanned more than five decades.

He was the architect of some of the most acclaimed New Zealand buildings of the later 20th century, an influential teacher at the University of Auckland's School of Architecture and Planning, and a highly respected commentator.

In 2005, Mr Mitchell was awarded the New Zealand Institute of Architects' gold medal - the highest honour bestowed by the organisation.

In 2014, he was selected as the creative director for New Zealand's first-ever exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

His 1984 book, The Elegant Shed, is widely regarded as one of the most important publications on the history of architecture in this country.

The book was also turned into a six-part television series, presented by Mr Mitchell.

Some of Mr Mitchell's more recent work has included the Tauranga Art Gallery, completed in 2005, and Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery in Titirangi, which was completed in 2014.

He has also designed a number of private homes, including Alan and Jenny Gibbs' Parnell home.

Andrew Barrie from the University of Auckland said Mr Mitchell was one of the greats, as demonstrated by his varied career.

"Lots of very, very interesting, exciting houses which really crystallised what we might think of as 'Kiwi lifestyle' in architectural form, but also a number of public buildings," he said.

Mr Mitchell was an early adopter and innovator, through his use of new materials, his control of space, use of light, and eye for architectural details, Mr Barrie said.

"So he was able to operate at all of those different kind of levels, from the lofty concepts, through to the nuts and bolts of putting buildings together."

Architecture writer Jeremy Hansen said Mr Mitchell never fixed on a signature style.

"All his buildings he designed with his partner, Julie Stout, were a really kind of interesting insight into his mind. He was eternally curious and not one to be full of certainty - he was like an ambassador for the architecture profession, but one of its leading practitioners at the same time."

Mr Mitchell was also involved in public debates around Auckland's planning issues and had been a strong advocate for protecting the Waitemata Harbour from further port expansion.