Remembering Niall McCullough (1958-2021) All of us in McCullough Mulvin want to pay tribute to our beloved Niall McCullough, who died on 20 August after a short illness.

Niall looked at the world around him with fierce intelligence, originality and humour. Making buildings was his passion, working with history and geography to shape a response to a brief and a site, excavating meaning out of the most difficult of situations. He was obsessed with clarifying the idea at every scale, for every project he worked on - working in pencil, biro, pen, coloured pencils or whatever was to hand, overlaying drawings on drawings, he willed ideas into life to communicate his thoughts: these were always for sharing and collaborating, and nothing was ever quite enough. Niall’s method of continually refining, even on site, was experiential and full of fine judgement of scale, form and proportion: the design process never stopped; and in a collaborative process like architecture, his restless enthusiasm for getting something right pushed us all to constantly improve. His particular interest was in creating new interventions into existing situations, layering soft and grainy materiality of old fabric with finely tuned new pieces. An encyclopaedic knowledge of architectural history, our frequent trips to visit the best of new modern architecture in Europe, and acute observation of how spaces would be used grounded every choice and totally informed the final building.

His books also pushed boundaries: never content with received information, he made his own, by close observance walking the streets of Dublin, an inquisitive gaze when looking at tower houses, or slipping from one theory to another when reconstructing the plan of some half buried ruin in landscape. When Niall looked at an ancient monument, whether in Sicily or South Tipperary, he applied human and social judgement to arrive at a logical theory for how it was used or its relationship to other buildings or landscape – which seemed inevitable once discussed and explained. It became a timeless piece of architecture, not something old or new.

Niall’s love of nature and its effect on buildings made him receptive to ideas of weathering and decay, and he was secretly delighted when a project of ours, in the aftermath of the financial crash, was left as an abandoned structure – a ruin of our own - to grow moss and drip water. He had it photographed and it was part of many lectures describing hubris and the impossibility of permanence.

His own permanence will now be formed out of our collective memory – of his brilliance, his originality, his sense of fun and mischief, and his love of life.

We will honour in the future all the core principles we founded early in the life of the practice and work to continue the ethos we’ve established.

We will miss him.

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