Sir Donald Gibson CBE
Gibson was regarded as a pioneer modern architect and his work made him one of the most influential architects of his generation.
'He was ahead of his time. What he did astonished the world. Coventry desperately needed his inspiration'
Gibson, Sir Donald Evelyn Edward, C.B.E., D.C.L., M.A., P.P.R.I.B.A., D.I.S.T., T.P., M.T.P.I., T.P.I.
Born 11th October 1908, Died December 1991
Gibson was Coventry's first City Architect.
He was regarded as a pioneer modern architect and his work made him one of the most
influential architects of his generation.
He may never have the chance to put his ideas into action, but for the terrible bombing. Within a fortnight of the November 1940 Blitz of Coventry, the City Council had set up a re-development committee and along with powerful allies and
devoted members were able to begin the drive to rebuild the city.
Gibson was the sort of genius who wanted to throw off sparks of imagination and his ideas. He was way ahead of his time, what he did was astonishing and Coventry desperately needed his inspiration.
Many people thought that his ideas would sweep away too much of the old city, but his ideas
encompassed old details amongst the open spaces and uncluttered views of
his new vision.
The alignment of the shopping precinct with the cathedral spire was a moment of inspiration that was to be copied by other cities worldwide.
Gibson achieved many firsts as the City Architect. Apart from the first pedestrian precinct there was the first rooftop parking, the first postwar
civic theatre, the circular retail market and experimental building methods. Planners and architects all around the world came to see what was happening
Characteristically Gibson was prepared to acknowledge the fact that given
his time again he might do some things differently.
"If you cannot put up buildings of your own time, you might as well forget it.
A town must live, you cannot wait until fashions change"
In 1955 Sir Donald left Coventry, this meant that his personal vision was never completed. He became County Architect in Nottinghamshire, where he worked on radical new building techniques.
Gibson went on to a Knighthood and became in effect the government's senior architect, raising architectural standards during his tenure.
However it is for his pioneering work in Coventry that he will be best remembered. It made him one of the most influential architects of his generation.