The RTPI is sad to learn news of the death of Sir Peter Hall, who is considered by many to be one of the foremost planners and academics of his generation. Equally at home discussing geography, architecture, history, political science, welfare economics, social psychology as well as planning he combined a highly distinguished academic career with advising successive governments on planning policy.
Amazingly knowledgeable and erudite, he was theinternational expert in the theory and practice of planning – holding fourteen honorary doctorates from universities in the UK, Sweden and Canada. He wrote and edited over 50 books, many of which have been translated in other languages and which will influence planning and planners for generations to come.
He had a glittering career spanning decades and continents; he was recipient of the RTPI Gold Medal, the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society, the Balzan Prize, winner of the Regional Studies Prize, and the Vautrin Lud International Geography Prize. He was knighted in 1998 for services to the Town and Country Planning Association.
Always generous with his time to members of the Institute, he has made an enormous contribution to the RTPI over many years, no less so than in our centenary year when despite challenges to his health he provide the keynote speeches at RTPI events in Newcastle and London.
Cath Ranson, President of the RTPI, said: “My thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues. His death is a massive blow to the profession and to academia but above all else to those who knew and loved him most.
When we have a little more time to reflect on his achievements, I am sure that we will recognise that Sir Peter was truly a ‘national treasure’, equally cherished, loved and admired. An intellectual colossus, he straddled theory and practice, managing to make planning not only interesting and accessible to any audience he wanted to, but fun too. Yet the true mark of his influence is that he was one of the very few academics whose name is instantly recognisable by those outside his discipline. He will be very sadly missed by everyone in the planning family.”
Trudi Elliott CBE, Chief Executive of the RTPI, added: “Sir Peter was a remarkable man, a great planner and a true friend to the RTPI. He had an international reputation and has left a legacy across the globe. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak twice recently at our centenary events, and still he could spellbind and was so personally lovely with it."
Photo credit: reproduced under a Creative Commons licence from //www.flickr.com/people/26946475@N08" style="border: 0px; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; color: rgb(69, 139, 187); text-decoration: none;">Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.
Source RTPI Webpage
Speech given by Vincent Goodstadt when presenting Sir Peter with the RTPI Gold Medal in 2003
EXTRACT FROM PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH AWARDING GOLD MEDAL TO SIR PETER HALL
As part of our commitment to planning the Royal Town Planning Institute seeks
- a renaissance of planning thought
- to recognise good practice, and
- to enhance the public status of planning.
And this is why we are here today since the highest recognition that can be given to these goals is to award the Gold Medal of the Royal Town Planning Institute to a handful of outstanding Planners who have left an indelible imprint on all of us, including some who were founding fathers of the Institute itself.
It is in the footsteps of these planners that Peter follows – in providing outstanding contribution in terms of planning thought, practice and service.
His contribution to planning thought is self evident – his list of publications is so extensive it is difficult to believe that anyone has the time to read them all never mind write them in the first place. But then, I have been told of so many stories of book reviews or interviews done in transit lounges of airports. Peter’s sheer energy would be extraordinary even in a young man.
However it is not only your output that is remarkable but
- the range of subjects from the challenge of world urbanisation to the development of the Greenwich Peninsula
- the span of historical analysis but most particularly
- the overriding linkage of practice and theory.
- Most recently as advisor for both John Prescott and Ken Livingstone;
- before that as special advisor for Michael Heseltine and
- even going back to 1967 for Harold Wilson he was looking into the East Thames Corridor (does it sound familiar).
In particular your contribution to the debate over the future of London has been monumental. The other day in addressing the Scottish Conference of the RTPI Peter suggested that he only really knew about London. Well it’s all relative I suppose.
The reality is that tackling the problems of the world’s mega cities will be the major challenge of the twenty first century; it is however a challenge which Peter is one of the few who seem capable of grappling with in terms of the scale of issues and their solutions.
By any measure his impact on the thinking about the future of our great cities, particularly London, has been significant, consistent and respected by all shades of government.
It is however not only in this country that you are held in special esteem. Throughout the world (from Adelaide to Berlin, and from Toronto to Tokyo) your advice has been sought, holding professorial chairs in planning in more than one continent. Even last week when I was speaking to planners in New York Regional Planning Association, they mentioned that you had just visited them. They are delighted that you are being honoured today and send their best wishes tonight.
In all you have done you have enhanced the public status of planning, raised standards of its practitioners, and improved professional relationships with the wider community.
This is no more clearly expressed than by the fact Peter was awarded his knighthood for services to the Town and Country Planning Association which itself has done so much to promote the art and science of planning and which you chaired for five years in the 1990s and are now its President.
Your personal commitment to planning, Peter, has been extraordinary. It is this personal commitment that I would like to stress most. Your academic colleagues talk about the time you give to students. This I can believe since I have benefited personally from your willingness, whether as a student forty years ago or more recently in your work on the Urban Renaissance task force, to listen and support, and to praise and encourage lesser mortals .
Well Peter if there is still room for the Renaissance man or woman in our society you can occupy it in the width of your learning , in your concern for fellow man and in your inspirational contribution to the planning over the last forty years
The Institute’s 1974 Gold Medallists, Professor Sir Robert Grieve called for us all to show the necessary knowledge and education, and to show the philosophical or ethical wisdom possessed by previous gold medallists.
You have met the challenge. It is therefore with great pleasure and an enormous honour that I ask you, Sir Peter Hall, to receive the Gold medal from the Royal Town Planning Institute which we give with our thanks and affection.