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Sir Terry Farrell awarded urban planning’s top honour

11 July 2017

Sir Terry Farrell Portrait

Sir Terry Farrell CBE has been awarded the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Gold Medal in recognition of his outstanding achievements as one of the world’s most influential architects, planners and urban designers.

The Gold Medal is open to all classes of membership internationally and has only been awarded 14 times in the RTPI’s history. Past recipients have included such luminaries as Sir Patrick Abercrombie, Lewis Mumford, Sir Colin Buchanan CBE and Sir Peter Hall.  

This award is in recognition of Sir Terry’s outstanding contribution towards developing thinking in urban design, his championing of urban planning and contribution to policy shaping at a national level, and his outstanding impact on place making through his professional career as an architect planner and urban designer.

Stephen Wilkinson, RTPI President, said: “Sir Terry has a deep passion and understanding for places and people and has successfully demonstrated that in his work throughout his career. He is one of the few top practitioners who has truly embraced architecture, urban design and planning in a holistic vision and so vitally helped to advance integrated thinking among these disciplines.

“Through his belief in place and people he has been instrumental in creating a culture where communities become more involved in the quality of their neighbourhoods.

“The RTPI Gold Medal is the Institute’s greatest accolade. I am delighted that we are recognising his enormous contribution to place-making and the planning profession, and the way he has transformed some of our cities and made them better places.”

Sir Terry has said: “I am very honoured by the recognition that this awards represents, particularly as it reflects the growing awareness that planning is a highly creative and pro-active endeavour that has the potential to transform places and communities. My work these last 50 or so years has been heavily involved in creating a kinder, less doctrinaire world than that of the previous era of high modernism. It has been about layering, learning from the past and regenerating with communities’ involvement from the bottom up.

“The 21st century is the century of global city making, which must be more sophisticated, joined up, sustainable and human centred going forward. Creative planning must lead future city making.”

The Gold Medal will be presented to Sir Terry at a ceremony in the autumn.

Aerial Photograph Of Brindley Place Birmingham

Aerial view of Brindley Place, Birmingham

Sir Terry Farrell's career

Over the course of his career Sir Terry has been responsible for post-industrial regeneration projects throughout the UK, including Newcastle Quayside, Brindley Place in Birmingham, Edinburgh Exchange district, Greenwich Peninsula and Paddington Basin. In 2008 he was appointed Design and Planning leader for the Thames Gateway, Europe’s largest regeneration project.

Current projects include Earls Court, Royal Albert Dock and proposals for low cost, lifting bridges in East London. His work on pedestrianising the public realm includes the Royal Parks Review, which led to a number of interventions at Park Lane and Hyde Park Corner, and separate studies for the Marylebone Euston Road and Bloomsbury which were initiated voluntarily.

Sir Terry has contributed to key strategic issues and policy making at a national level. Most notably he led, at the request of Government, the recent Farrell Review of Architecture and the Built Environment.

The Review, described by the Culture Minister as “the most thorough and wide-ranging exercise that has taken place in this sector for generations”, took a holistic view of the built environment. It made various recommendations which help to embed planning into place making including turning design review panels into “PLACE” review panels, and planning applications over a certain size to include an analysis of operational and embedded carbon over a building’s lifetime. Many of its recommendations are being carried through into the planning, design and development world by The Place Alliance and a growing number of community focused “Urban Rooms” proposed in the Review. 

He has additionally been involved in planning work and large scale urban design and architecture work internationally, particularly in China, India, Australia and Singapore where he recently won the competition to design and plan one of Asia’s largest high speed rail stations. West Kowloon is used as an international exemplar for transport oriented development with high-density, mixed-use development above a multi-modal transport hub. 

He has advised many city leaders in a voluntary capacity such as Edinburgh, Leeds, Hull, Newcastle, Manchester and various Kent and Essex towns and villages

He has been the London Mayor’s Design Advisor, and advised the Department for Transport on high-speed rail whilst currently working with various London boroughs on strategic planning.

Sir Terry was named CBE in 1996 and made a Knight Bachelor in 2001.


Portrait of Terry Farrell: Richard Gleed