Sir Ove Arup, Sir Parker Morris, Cedric Price, James Nisbet, Sir Colin Buchanan, Sir John Laing, Lord Taylor of Hadfield, Harry Hyams, Max Fordham

Sir Ove Arup (1895-1988)

Founder of Arup and driving force of ‘total architecture'

Arguably the greatest engineer since Isambard Kingdom Brunel, many of Sir Ove Arup's finest achievements occurred before 1966. Marrying structural engineering and architecture - "total architecture" as he put it - Sir Ove had already built his famous penguin pool at London Zoo and the new Coventry Cathedral.

Although his multidisciplinary firm, Arup & Partners, was 20 years old by 1966, the Newcastle-upon-Tyne born son of the Danish consul still had much to give during the time covered by this list. Indeed, it was in 1970 that he gave "The Key Speech". Still given to all new Arup employees, the speech is to them a bit like what the Little Red Book was to Maoists. Arup gave the speech in Winchester to partners from Arup offices across the world. It defined the company's values, such as ensuring that work is interesting rather than a necessary evil, and sought to establish how the business would be passed on to the next generation. It effectively led to the establishment of a co-operative structure in 1979, with the business handed over in trust to the employees.

Arup’s plans for the Gorilla House at London Zoo
Arup’s plans for the Gorilla House at London Zoo

He said in the speech: "It may be possible to build in some defences against the leaders misbehaving and developing boss-complexes and pomposity - and forgetting that they are just as much servants in a good cause as everybody else - only more so."

Hall of Fame judge Peter Murray says: "The speech shows the power of his vision, that it still has an impact on an organisation of Arup's scale."

By sticking to his principles, the company turnover now tops £405m in 2004/05. It now employs 7000 people in 32 countries.

A structural engineer by training, his belief in a multidisciplinary approach was recognised by the architecture profession in 1966, when the RIBA awarded Sir Ove the Royal Gold Medal. Even after his retirement, Sir Ove's influence was keenly felt in the design of projects such as the Sydney Opera House.

In his own words: "Unless we have a ‘mission' - and I don't like the word - but something ‘higher' to strive for - and I don't particularly like that expression either - but unless we feel that we have a special contribution to make which our very size and diversity and whole outlook can help to achieve, I for one am not interested." From the Key Speech

Three key dates:

1934 The Penguin Pool, London Zoo*
1966 RIBA Gold Medal
1971 Knighted

* Unless otherwise stated, dates next to building names are dates of completion

An early drawing of the zoo’s penguin pool
An early drawing of the zoo’s penguin pool

Sir Parker Morris (1891-1972)

Set the standards for housing design

Although Sir Parker Morris' seminal government report, Homes for Today & Tomorrow, was published in 1961 it was only by the end of the decade that the impact of its generous space standards for housing was felt. The so-called Parker Morris standards only became mandatory for housing in new towns in 1967 and it was another two years until it was compulsory for all council homes.

Morris, who had been a town clerk for Westminster council, argued that people needed to be guaranteed better quality homes to match the improvement in living standards. Among his conclusions was that there should be at least one toilet in dwellings with up to three bedrooms and that there should be heating systems for kitchens. As a result, slum housing that failed to meet the standards was demolished.

Unfortunately, in a government measure to lower public spending, the standards stopped being mandatory in 1980, and little of the public housing built in the quarter of a century since meets all of Morris' aspirations.

Jon Rouse, chief executive of the Housing Corporation, says: "It is a remarkable testament that despite the passage of 40 years, the space standards conceived by Parker Morris are still regarded widely within the affordable housing sector as a benchmark to be strived for. Parker Morris was perhaps the first to sow the seeds of what we now call sustainable housing."

In his own words: "This approach … starts with a clear recognition of these various activities and their relative importance in social, family and individual lives, and goes on to assess the conditions necessary for their pursuit in terms of space, atmosphere, efficiency, comfort, furniture and equipment." From Homes for Today & Tomorrow.

Three key dates:

1960 Co-founded housing development agency, the Housing Association Charitable Trust
1961 Publication of Homes for Today & Tomorrow
1969 Parker Morris standards made compulsory for all council housing

The 1961 report that made Sir Parker Morris’ name synonymous with improved housing standards
The 1961 report that made Sir Parker Morris’ name synonymous with improved housing standards

Cedric Price (1934-2003)

Innovative thinker and flexible design pioneer

Cedric Price's reputation isn't built on how many projects he finished. Rather it's built on how his innovative ideas influenced others. Chief among these ideas was the Fun Palace, an ambitious arts workshop for east London that Price dreamt up in 1960 with theatre director Joan Littlewood, for which the architect proposed an entirely rearrangable form and structure. Although never built, it did inspire Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers' Pompidou Centre in Paris. Another unrealised idea from this period was his project for the education sector, the Potteries Thinkbelt, which was not so much a building as a network of mobile classrooms and laboratories in Staffordshire.

The Interaction Centre in Kentish Town in 1971 was one of just a handful of buildings he did finish. True to the way he approached architecture he claimed it incorporated a fourth dimension - time - into its design by only having a 20-year lifespan.

Throughout his professional life, he had a dramatic influence on other architects. Former RIBA president Paul Hyett called his time working with Price from 1974 to 1980 a "unique career-forming experience".

"One of the things I took from Cedric's office was the ambition to delight with our work," says Hyett. "He just seemed to be the centre of so many things that were just wonderful."

In his own words: "Education, if it is to be a continuous human service run by the community, must be provided with the same lack of peculiarity as the supply of drinking water or free teeth."

Three key dates:

1958-64 Taught at the Architectural Association
1960 Developed Fun Palace concept
1971 The Interaction Centre

Cedric Price’s Fun Palace concept inspired a generation of architects, but was never built
Cedric Price’s Fun Palace concept inspired a generation of architects, but was never built

James Nisbet (1920-)

Mastermind behind the cost plan and founder of Nisbet

James Nisbet provoked the wrath of the RICS when he published an anonymous document advocating elemental cost planning in 1951. He told Building in 1978: "It was a courageous thing to take the decision to publish. The quantity surveying profession didn't like it at all … they thought it would give them more work for the same money. The RICS didn't like it at all … they set up a committee to kill the elemental bill."

Nisbet developed cost planning in the 1950s as a QS at Hertfordshire council. The council had landed him with the formidable task of cutting the costs of its school building programme by 50%. Nisbet's solution was to calculate the cost of various elements of a building before the architect had even picked up a pen. The architect was then asked to produce a design that would match Nisbet's targets. The effect, in his words, was "substantially reduced costs".

Despite the initial furore it caused, cost planning is now standard practice. Nisbet promoted it through the firm he founded in 1964, James Nisbet & Partners, now Nisbet. At 86, he remains principle associate of the company, which employs 80 staff in eight UK offices.

Hall of Fame judge Rob Smith says: "In the late 1960s and early 1970s the techniques he promoted were groundbreaking. They were the forerunners to the modern-day estimating methods and the benchmarking data."

In his own words: "It was the elemental bill that really upset the QS profession. They were certain it would cost more money to produce."

Three key dates:

1951 Developed cost planning
1964 Founded Nisbet
1965-8 Was building cost consultant to the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development

Sir Colin Buchanan (1907-2001)

Brains behind the 1960s transport planning revolution

With a degree in engineering and a career in various government departments behind him, Buchanan's moment of glory did not come until 1963, when he was 56, with the government report Traffic in Towns. At a time when widespread car ownership was taking off, he argued that a balance had to be struck between freedom of car access, the cost of building roads and the quality of the urban environment. The headline-grabbing report also led to the widespread development of one-way streets, flyovers and underpasses. The government responded in 1968 by requiring local authorities to adopt a multidisciplinary approach that co-ordinated land use and transportation planning.

The report propelled Buchanan's career out of the civil service. He became professor of transport at Imperial College London and set up his own multidisciplinary practice, Colin Buchanan & Partners, which is still running today with 170 employees.

Hall of Fame judge Spencer de Grey says: "He was the key person in setting out the correct balance between traffic and pedestrians that set the agenda for inner cities." Buchanan's ideas still influence many of today's schemes, such as de Grey's own practice Foster and Partners' £25m pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square in 2003.

In his own words: "We are nourishing at immense cost a monster of great potential destructiveness [the car], and yet we love him dearly. To refuse to accept the challenge it presents would be an act of defeatism."

Three key dates:

1963 Publication of Traffic in Towns
Transport Act - the government's response to Traffic in Towns

The 2003 pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square was influenced by Colin Buchanan’s Traffic in Towns report, published 40 years earlier
The 2003 pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square was influenced by Colin Buchanan’s Traffic in Towns report, published 40 years earlier

Sir John Laing (1879-1978)

Presided over construction's first family

It seems unfair to single out one member of the Laing family, construction's most famous dynasty, but Sir John Laing, who inherited his father James' building business in the early 1900s, certainly had the greatest impact.

A deeply religious man, Sir John gave the company its evangelical direction, which included pioneering ideas that nurtured staff, such as paid holidays and annual outings, in the early part of the 20th century. Moreover, in 1909, with the company was on the verge of bankruptcy, Sir John made a pledge to God: for every pound he earned, a significant percentage would be given away to charity. He stuck to this - when he died in 1978 his possessions were valued at £371, despite the millions his family had made.

He staved off the threat of bankruptcy, too. From being a small housebuilder in the early 1900s, Laing became the country's biggest construction firm, building airfields, reservoirs and motorways. Sir John cited his belief in God as the key to his success.

The next generation cemented the family name, with Sir Maurice and Sir Kirby encouraging industry-high safety standards. Finally, Sir John's grandson Sir Martin expanding the company into infrastructure services investment during the 1990s. His retirement in 2004, brought to an end 156 years of family involvement in the business.

In his own words: "First, the centre of my life is to be God, as seen in Jesus Christ. Second, I am going to enjoy life and help others to enjoy it." Sir John Laing's "pact" with God in 1909.

Three key dates:

1956 Reconstruction of Coventry Cathedral
1959 Knighted
2004 Sir Martin Laing steps down from the company board

Lord Taylor of Hadfield (1905-1995)

Founder of Taylor Woodrow

In 1921, the 16-year-old Frank Taylor borrowed £100 to build two homes in his home town of Blackpool, doubling his money in the process. Within a few decades, Taylor Woodrow, the firm he had created to build those houses was one of the world's biggest construction companies.

"He started on the ground as a pure low-cost housebuilder, but in 40 years turned it into one of the largest construction and civil engineering businesses in the world," says Hall of Fame judge Mike Freshney.

Taylor demonstrated early on that he had plenty of get-up-and-go by moving from the depressed North-west to booming Middlesex. There he developed the first of a string of housing estates in the then rapidly expanding Greater London.

He branched out even further in the 1930s, when Taylor Woodrow built its first houses in the USA. The late 1930s also saw the birth of Taylor Woodrow's construction arm.

Alan Cherry, Countryside Properties chairman, says: "When I was young man, he was one of the leading men in the industry and somebody that you looked up to."

Taylor presided over a string of projects during the post-war period, including the development of St Katherine's Dock, north London's Staples Corner junction and the Dubai Docks. A lifelong Tory party donor, Taylor entered the House of Lords in 1983.

Well into his 80s, Taylor remained very much a hands-on president of the company. "He was an old young man, always in the office first thing in the morning," says Freshney, who worked at Taylor Woodrow in the 1970s.

In 1995, still president of the company that he had set up more than 70 years earlier, Lord Taylor died at the age of 90.

In his own words: "A fair day's work for a fair day's wage" - Lord Taylor's mantra

Three key dates:

1921 Built first two houses
Taylor Woodrow wins Home of the Year award at the New Homes exhibition
Entered House of Lords

Harry Hyams (1928-)

The man who developed Centre Point

Dubbed the "daddy of all developers", Harry Hyams was the most celebrated and probably most controversial of the generation that changed the face of post-war London. Hyams' rise to become one of Britain's richest men began in the 1950s when along with figures like Charles Clore and Jack Palumbo he began developing in the City.

Sir Stuart Lipton says: "He was the first man to recognise the importance of skilled planning and development."

Hyams forged a close relationship with architect Richard Seifert, developing a string of iconic London buildings, including Draper's Gardens and headquarters in Kingsway of architectural watchdog Cabe.

But Hyams will always be most famous for Centre Point, the 42-storey building that transformed the skyline of London's West End.

Hyams and his building became the focus of the late 1960s backlash against developers, leading to the establishment of the Centrepoint homelessness charity, named after the iconic, and at the time infamously empty, building.

As recently as 2004, Hyams was ranked at 137th place in the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated fortune of £315m.

In his own words: "There are none so deaf as those who will not hear" - a Hyams quip to a demanding Oldham Estate shareholder

Three key dates:

1959 Bought £50,000 stake in developer Oldham Estate
1963 Centre Point
1988 Oldham Estate bought by MEPC

In a previous version of this article we said that Mr Hyams kept the Centrepoint building vacant for more than a decade, allegedly to avoid Capital Gains Tax. We have been asked to point out that Centrepoint remained vacant while Mr Hyams sought a single tenant of undoubted covenant for the building, and not for financial reasons. We are grateful for Mr Hyams for pointing this out.

Centre Point: The brainchild of Harry Hyams
Centre Point: The brainchild of Harry Hyams

Max Fordham (1933-)

Pioneer of ‘green' services engineering

Max Fordham was perhaps the first engineer to attempt to lead the M&E sector away from a drive to ram as much electrical equipment into a development as possible and towards a more aesthetic and environmentally-aware strategy.

His engineering practice, Max Fordham, was set up as Max Fordham & Partners in 1966, and has grown to employ more than 100 engineers. It has contributed to some of the most environmentally-advanced buildings in the UK, including the BRE headquarters at Garston, Hertfordshire and the first ever commercial zero-carbon development, the headquarters of windfarm company Renewable Energy Systems.

Fordham's philosophy is that the servicing of a building should be part of the structure's design, rather than providing accessories that detract from it. His firm specialises in developing sustainable solutions for heating, water and electrical installations, and trains all of its engineers in environmental engineering.

Max Fordham is acknowledged as one of the UK's leading authorities in his field. He is a visiting professor in building and design at the University of Bath, and was president of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers from 2001 to 2002.

In his own words: "I didn't want to go into engineering and not make my mark."

Three key dates:

1966 Founded Max Fordham & Partners
1973 The Olivetti Building in Turin is shortlisted for the Building of the Year award
1997 CIBSE Gold Medal