Jeremy Rose, A Tribute by Phill Mashabane

Jeremy Rose, a Tribute

Jeremy Rose, a well-known, deeply respected and prolific South African architect, passed away on Sunday 20th of December 2015.

Prior to 1994, he lived as a conscientious objector in Gaborone, Botswana, where he worked in partnership with Colin Savage. He was also a successful political and social activist who was a member of the End Conscription Campaign in the 1980s.

Shortly after returning to South Africa, a collaboration with Phill Mashabane led to the establishment of Mashabane Rose Associates (MRA) in 1995.

Over the course of the next two decades, MRA proved itself to be a powerful force in South African post-apartheid architecture, producing note-worthy projects such as the Apartheid Museum, Liliesleaf, The Robben Island Millenium Museum, Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum, Origins Centre, University of Johannesburg Arts Centre, Mandela House Museum, Mandela Capture Site, the Market Theatre’s new Laager Theatre and Freedom Park. Recognized for their strong conceptual power and a commitment to contemporary design, several of these projects have found their way into architectural publications and some have received awards from the South African Institute of Architects.

Jeremy presented two projects (Freedom Park and Liliesleaf) at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona in 2009 and together with Phill, was invited to present the work of MRA at the 2014 Sophia Gray Memorial Lecture & Exhibition in Bloemfontein. Amongst numerous design awards, these were two career highlights that Jeremy cherished.

Jeremy’s eyes lit up at the prospect of every architectural competition he came across. He loved nothing better than the opportunity to explore a new narrative with a seemingly endless fountain of design ideas. For two decades MRA has been synonymous with competition submissions and Jeremy’s presence as a fierce and enthusiastic competitor will be missed.

Despite his rigorous pursuit of design excellence, Jeremy was a gentle giant. His high expectations were complimented by a genuine concern for others. He enjoyed teaching periodically at various architecture schools in South Africa and always embraced the opportunity to help young aspiring individuals to grow, with genuine warmth and enthusiasm.

Jeremy kept a close eye on all projects in the office. He spent a lot of time moving from one staff member to the next, exploring ideas and concepts. These times were stimulating architectural conversations – but also deeply personal ones. They were also as much about producing work, as they were tutoring sessions in how to think, draw, see and make. His role as designer, director and mentor transcended work and his influence with clients, colleagues and students was far-reaching. His cheeky mischievous wit was present in all situations, and a big laugh was never far behind. His hearty ‘Good morning, Comrades’ greeting will be sorely missed by the MRA studio. He cared deeply.

Jeremy’s strong presence in the art world will also be missed. He loved surrounding himself with interesting people and he was a great supporter of the contemporary South African art scene. His home was filled with art – and very often the artists themselves. He was a talented draughtsman, painter and sculptor himself, and his artworks conveyed the sharp wit and cheeky humour that he was so well known – and so well loved for.

His long-time business partner Phill Mashabane recalls “Our companionship, relationship and partnership was strengthened by his willingness to embrace African Totems as a guide in dealing with circumstances in Architecture. He strived to engage and infuse metaphors in Architecture which at times were only understood in architectural discourse. As a result he became a stickler for detail and Architectural responsiveness to the end user. Our work together embraced human memory in Architecture. We had only scratched the surface... in his memory as a friend, companion, business partner and sound board, and the ROSE without thorns at MRA he is, and shall continue to be gravely missed.”

He leaves behind his beloved daughter Maya, partner Mary Wafer and a large host of friends, all of whom will miss him dearly.

Phill Mashabane

Memorial Service – Jeremy Rose
Place : Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg
Date: 30 January 2016 (Saturday)
Time : 10am

(1) Text courtesy of the South African Institute of Architects
(2) Photograph courtesy of Marco Cianfanelli