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Jewels in the Crown... Jonathan’s body of work was extraordinary, including two of the firm’s three IALD Radiance Awards in succession... (l to r) Terminal 4, Barajas Airport in Madrid and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi as well as the Scottish Design Award for the Sands Bethworks in Pennsylvania, USA.


Jonathan Speirs trained as an architect at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, Aberdeen and Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh. Whilst studying, Jonathan indulged his interest in live music, acting as a lighting designer for friends’ bands. The unplanned convergence of his studies and hobby let to a lifelong passion for working with light in archi- tecture. As a result he co-founded the pioneer- ing lighting design practice Lighting Design Partnership (LDP) with Andre Tammes in 1984 not long after qualifying as an architect. This was at a time when the lighting design profession was in the early stages of develop- ment in the UK. Leaving LDP in 1992 he went on to form Jonathan Speirs and Associates in Edinburgh and in 1993 formed a working partnership with Mark Major in London which developed into Speirs + Major. His trademark energy and charm, along with a passion for architecture and light are fully evident when one reflects on his remarkable career. A gifted designer, Jonathan possessed a rare ability to combine creativity with elegant technical solutions. Unafraid to push the boundaries, he was involved in an incredible range of ground-breaking lighting projects all


about architecture and light; I experienced all that from our first conversation right up to the last time I saw him. Even during his long illness all he wanted to speak about was something interesting that he had read or a wonderful opportunity he had just heard about. All I had been looking for all those years ago was a casual job. With Jonathan I of course ended up with so much more than I ever could have hoped for.


And that was the mark of the man. Whether you were a client, a fellow architect or designer, a hard working employee or simply met him at a party, you would always come away from any encounter with Jonathan much the richer. Constantly bursting with ideas, stories, references, things he had seen and experiences that he just had to share with you - Jon was never a man whose glass was half empty or half full - it was


over the world. As a result his work has been honoured with a number of international and national lighting awards including two Interna- tional Association of Lighting Designer’s Radi- ance Awards (above). He was also voted the Lighting Dimensions International Architectural Lighting Designer of the Year Award in 1997. Jonathan’s unbounded enthusiasm, conta- gious excitement and his willingness to share knowledge, stories and experiences served to inspire everyone he met. He lectured widely on lighting and was actively involved in educa- tion including ‘Made of Light; The Art of Light and Architecture’ an educational project he co-created with Mark Major in 2005. Both the architectural and lighting design professions are much the richer for the exceptional contri- bution he made.


Jonathan was a Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Professional Lighting Designers Association. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Archi- tects in Scotland, an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Light and Lighting and an Honorary Fellow of the International Lighting Designer’s Association. In 2010 he was honoured with Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland’s


always completely overflowing. His ability to excite not only you and the person next to you but also the whole room was one of his many remarkable gifts; that and the speed of his creative mind. He could not only con- ceive a remarkable lighting concept in the blink of an eye but more incredibly, he could synthesise the technical solution at the same time. That came from another ability he had – to constantly record and observe the world around him. In that way he often left many of us trailing in his wake. The great thing was that no concept was too daring or too crazy. As a result Jon was responsible for leading some of the most celebrated and innovative award-winning lighting projects of recent times.


And yet beneath the creative and extro- vert exterior that marked his professional career there was another Jonathan who was


Gold Medal – the highest honour that can be bestowed on a Scottish Architect together with an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot Watt Uni- versity. He also received a Lifetime Achieve- ment Award in 2011 from the Professional Lighting Designers Association. Such honours rightly recognise his outstanding contribu- tion to architecture and architectural lighting design. In recognition of Jonathan’s considerable achievements a small group of friends have agreed to establish the ‘Jonathan Speirs Schol- arship Trust’ as a means by which to continue his legacy into the future. This fund will seek to actively raise money to provide financial support to aspiring young architects to enter the lighting profession just as he did. There is no more fitting way to celebrate Jonathan’s remarkable life than to continue doing what he was so good at – inspiring and helping the next generation to reach higher than they might otherwise achieve by doing the thing he loved most - bringing magic to people’s lives through the imaginative and creative applica- tion of light. Details of this fund will be made available on the Speirs + Major website. www.speirsandmajor.com


quiet and considered. He rarely expressed his private feelings and if he did it was always in the most polite and reserved of ways. He was also extremely modest about his achievements. Above all he was a very warm, generous and considerate man who worried about the people around him, al- ways wanting them to have fun. Anyone who ever met Jonathan would never forget him and wherever I go people always immedi- ately not only ask after him but then go on to shower him with praise.


As for his prodigious talent as a lighting designer you need look no further than the incredible list of projects that he completed over a career that spanned nearly thirty years. From his more sensitive architectural approach to projects such as Barajas Airport, Madrid and Gateshead Millennium Bridge to the more dynamic and iconic lighting


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