Cedric Price Collection

Scope and Content

The collection contains files, correspondence, documents, notebooks, drawings, watercolours, photographs and artefacts relevant to Cedric Price's architectural works and ideas. Particular strengths of the collection are material from his childhood and years at university, and bundles of family correspondence, chiefly from his mother.

Administrative / Biographical History

Cedric John Price was born 11 September 1934 in Stone, Staffordshire, the second child of the architect Arthur John Price (d. 1953) and his wife, Doreen Catherine (née Emery). He attended several convent schools before entering Alleyne's Grammar School, Stone, in the summer of 1943.

Price matriculated at St John's College in 1952, graduating with a BA in architecture in 1955. During his years at Cambridge Price involved himself in a number of architectural, artistic and political activities and organisations, including the Cambridge University Society of Arts, which he served as President from 1954-55.

From Cambridge he moved on to the Architectural Association's School of Architecture in London, achieving his DipArch in 1957. The School appointed him as a part-time lecturer in 1958--their youngest appointee to that date--and he continued to teach for the School until l964.

Price continued to be a lively contributor to architectural education in the ensuing decades, both in the UK and abroad. He was visiting lecturer at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, Michigan, in 1966; became the Architecture Association School's first Senior Research Fellow in 1992; was visiting Professor of Architecture, Rice University, Houston, Texas, in 1992-1993; was awarded (Hon) Doctor of Design (UEL) in 1995; and was the William Lyon Somerville Visiting Lecturer at the University of Calgary in 2003. Polyark, a venture in nomadic architectural learning, teaching and outreach in the form of a double-decker bus that travelled across Britain in 1973, stemmed from Price's 1966 National School Plan proposal aimed at improving the range and standard of architecture students' training by 'totally restructuring the national architectural education machine'.

In the autumn of 1957 Price was offered his first full-time architectural job by the firm of Fry, Drew, Drake and Lasdun. He established his own practice, Cedric Price Architects, in 1960, which operated from premises at 38 Alfred Place in London until 2002.

Price was an active member in numerous--and sometimes unusual--professional and related bodies, including the Architectural Association, RIBA, London Subterranean Survey Association (founding and council member), Society of Underwater Technology (council member), the Royal Agricultural Society and the only architect to belong to the National Institute of Demolition Contractors. With the structural engineer Frank Newby, he co-founded the Lightweight Enclosures Unit in 1969 to pursue their interest in design and research into pneumatic structures.

Once called 'the poet king [of] the world of ideas', 'CP' was among the most influential architects of the 20th century who, although he built very little, is remembered as revolutionary in the world of design. Time, he insisted, was the fourth dimension in architecture and planning, and 'doubt, delight and change' essential design criteria in order 'to establish a valid equation between contemporary social aspirations and architecture'.

His most widely-known realised structure still in existence is the London Zoo's North Aviary (the 'Snowdon Aviary'). Among his more famous unbuilt schemes are the Fun Palace, for client Joan Littlewood--a significant influence in Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano's design for the Centre Pompidou in Paris--and the Potteries Thinkbelt, a visionary scheme for mobile learning and economic regeneration planned for a vast area in North Staffordshire, as well as proposals for South Bank redevelopment in London in the early 1980s which included a giant ferris wheel, a precursor to the London Eye.

In 2002 Price was awarded the Austrian Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts.

He died on 10 August 2003.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation

Acquisition Information

The major portion of the Cedric Price Archive is held at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal, to which it was transferred in a number of consignments between 1995 and 2004. This personal section of his archive was given to the College by his consort, Eleanor Bron (''Partner' implies business, whereas 'consort' sounds like you had fun together.'), in 2012, with a further deposit in 2016.

Note

Cedric John Price was born 11 September 1934 in Stone, Staffordshire, the second child of the architect Arthur John Price (d. 1953) and his wife, Doreen Catherine (née Emery). He attended several convent schools before entering Alleyne's Grammar School, Stone, in the summer of 1943.

Price matriculated at St John's College in 1952, graduating with a BA in architecture in 1955. During his years at Cambridge Price involved himself in a number of architectural, artistic and political activities and organisations, including the Cambridge University Society of Arts, which he served as President from 1954-55.

From Cambridge he moved on to the Architectural Association's School of Architecture in London, achieving his DipArch in 1957. The School appointed him as a part-time lecturer in 1958--their youngest appointee to that date--and he continued to teach for the School until l964.

Price continued to be a lively contributor to architectural education in the ensuing decades, both in the UK and abroad. He was visiting lecturer at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, Michigan, in 1966; became the Architecture Association School's first Senior Research Fellow in 1992; was visiting Professor of Architecture, Rice University, Houston, Texas, in 1992-1993; was awarded (Hon) Doctor of Design (UEL) in 1995; and was the William Lyon Somerville Visiting Lecturer at the University of Calgary in 2003. Polyark, a venture in nomadic architectural learning, teaching and outreach in the form of a double-decker bus that travelled across Britain in 1973, stemmed from Price's 1966 National School Plan proposal aimed at improving the range and standard of architecture students' training by 'totally restructuring the national architectural education machine'.

In the autumn of 1957 Price was offered his first full-time architectural job by the firm of Fry, Drew, Drake and Lasdun. He established his own practice, Cedric Price Architects, in 1960, which operated from premises at 38 Alfred Place in London until 2002.

Price was an active member in numerous--and sometimes unusual--professional and related bodies, including the Architectural Association, RIBA, London Subterranean Survey Association (founding and council member), Society of Underwater Technology (council member), the Royal Agricultural Society and the only architect to belong to the National Institute of Demolition Contractors. With the structural engineer Frank Newby, he co-founded the Lightweight Enclosures Unit in 1969 to pursue their interest in design and research into pneumatic structures.

Once called 'the poet king [of] the world of ideas', 'CP' was among the most influential architects of the 20th century who, although he built very little, is remembered as revolutionary in the world of design. Time, he insisted, was the fourth dimension in architecture and planning, and 'doubt, delight and change' essential design criteria in order 'to establish a valid equation between contemporary social aspirations and architecture'.

His most widely-known realised structure still in existence is the London Zoo's North Aviary (the 'Snowdon Aviary'). Among his more famous unbuilt schemes are the Fun Palace, for client Joan Littlewood--a significant influence in Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano's design for the Centre Pompidou in Paris--and the Potteries Thinkbelt, a visionary scheme for mobile learning and economic regeneration planned for a vast area in North Staffordshire, as well as proposals for South Bank redevelopment in London in the early 1980s which included a giant ferris wheel, a precursor to the London Eye.

In 2002 Price was awarded the Austrian Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts.

He died on 10 August 2003.

Preferred citation: St John's College Library, Cedric Price Collection

Archivist's Note

16 Nov 2017

Related Material

Almost all of the extensive Cedric Price Archive is held at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, in Montréal, including the files, plans and models from his practice.

Additional Information

Published

Subjects