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Obituary for Patrick O’Sullivan, Former Chair of Architectural Science at the Welsh School of Architecture

22 February 2021

Patrick O'Sullivan
Patrick O'Sullivan

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Patrick O’Sullivan (b. 1937) who was Chair of Architectural Science at the Welsh School of Architecture between 1970 and 1988.

He was appointed to the chair in 1970 at the early age of 33, moving from Newcastle University to the School, which was then part of the University of Wales Institute of Technology (UWIST). This was a period when Schools of Architecture recognised the need to develop a research culture and the then Head of School, Professor Dewi Prys Thomas, saw architectural science as an area that provided an opportunity for building a strong and vital research capability.

Pat was a pioneer in taking the subject forward, specialising in building energy, and healthy buildings, and establishing Cardiff as a world leader in the field, building an inter-disciplinary research group that exists today. He set up the ground-breaking architectural course at St Fagans, using real buildings as laboratories to observe and measure building performance. The degree courses at the School soon became recognised for their strong architectural science and environmental design content.  Whilst at Cardiff, he led major research projects on Better Insulated Housing, Passive Solar Design and Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). He became extremely adept at bringing industry funding to large scale projects and in transferring academic research outcomes into practice.

He recognised the importance of working closely with government and industry, collaborating with both the electricity and gas industries. He was a member of the Government Committee inquiry into Legionnaires’ Disease, and chaired the England and Wales Building Regulation Advisory Committee (BRAC).

He enjoyed working on real projects, including, the refurbishment of Windsor Chapel, Hampshire Schools, Liverpool Energy Study, and Isle of Wight Hospital, work which would now be termed ‘research in practice’. His work with architectural practice led to the award of an RIBA Honorary Fellowship 1980. He was awarded the OBE in 1988.

Pat played a major role leading up to the merger of UWIST and University College Cardiff in 1988, at which time he left Cardiff to take up the post of Dean at the Bartlett, UCL, a post he held until 1999. He continued to occupy the Haden-Pilkington Chair at the Bartlett until his retirement, after which he and his wife Diana returned to live in Cardiff.

Pat will be remembered by those who had the privilege of working with him for his enthusiasm for the subject, his sense of fun, and his ability to communicate the subject to a wide audience.

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