Architect

Born: April 15, 1967;

Died: January 9, 2016

GARETH Hoskins, who has died suddenly aged 48, was not only one of Scotland's and the UK's finest and most innovative architects but his peers were certain he was about to achieve global recognition as a "starchitect" before his sudden death.

He won many awards but he was controversial too, a visionary and iconoclast who sought to merge traditional architecture with the tastes and needs of the present and future generations. That brought him into conflict with conservationists who feel that classic buildings should not be tampered with, even if they are in disrepair. Mr Hoskins' view was that such buildings could best be preserved through a mixture of respect for their legacy and regeneration to keep them relevant.

Edinburgh-born, Mr Hoskins fell in love with the buildings of Glasgow and set up his offices there. It is no coincidence that when he first branched out abroad, he opened an office in Berlin, what you might call the Glasgow of Europe - rough, tough and gritty. His practice, Hoskins Architects on Glasgow's Osborne Street, was and remains a shining light of creativity a stone's throw from the Gallowgate and the Barras.

Most recently, Mr Hoskins' architects helped create a new home -("a creative factory") for the National Theatre of Scotland, now based on Glasgow's Civic Street. The project, due for completion this year, is in keeping with the National Theatre of Scotland's guiding concept of a theatre without walls and is aimed at expanding the company's reputation nationally and internationally.

HeraldScotland: The building, formerly a disused Cash 'n Carry at Speirs Wharf on the Forth and Clyde Canal, will not host public performances but will give the company space for writers, rehearsal rooms, a wardrobe department, production workshop, props and technical stores, administrative space and social areas. Hoskins Architects wanted to give them a home in a regenerating area of Glasgow.

Among Mr Hoskins' best-known and most-admired projects was his redesign of the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street, Edinburgh, a plan which is still ongoing. Mr Hoskins' designs helped transform the museum over the last few years and he was pressing on with a £700,000 Italian-style pedestrian piazza outside the museum when he died.

Many motorists criticised the plan, lamenting the loss of 40 parking spaces on Chambers Street. Hoskins Architects reconfigured the listed Victorian building's stone-vaulted cellars to create a dramatic public entrance hall. Within a month of its reopening in July 2011, the museum attracted more than 500,000 visitors, far exceeding all anticipated targets.

According to the director of the National Museum, Dr Gordon Rintoul: “All major cities have a quality public realm and the plans to redefine the use of the public space in Chambers Street will provide just that – an appropriate setting in keeping with the prominence of the buildings and a much enhanced public space for people to meet and enjoy events. This space will create a new focus for cultural activity."

More controversial were Mr Hoskins' plans to design a luxury 147-room hotel around the old Royal High School on Edinburgh's Calton Hill, a disused neo-classical treasure designed by the great Glaswegian architect Thomas Hamilton in the 1820s. The building was once mooted as a possible site for the new Scottish parliament.

Mr Hoskins' idea was to build two "organic wings" of hotel rooms to flank the old school, which would have served as the focal point for public events, cafes and restaurants. Hoskins Architects were also involved in American tycoon Donald Trump's £1bn golf resort near Aberdeen.

While living in Helensburgh on the Clyde estuary, Mr Hoskins became involved in numerous local projects, including the Cardross Seminary, between Dumbarton and Helensburgh, originally designed by Glasgow architects Isa Metzstein and Andy MacMillan and regarded as an important example of Modernist design. Among Mr Hoskins' other commissions were a rooftop extension for Aberdeen Art Gallery

Gareth Hoskins was born in Edinburgh on April 15, 1967, and attended George Watson's College in the city. Always wanting to be an architect, he studied at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, part of the Glasgow School of Art on Renfrew Street which was ravaged by fire in May 2014. He went on to study architecture at the Accademia di Bella Arti, part of the University of Florence, Italy, where he passed Michelangelo's famous nude sculpture of David every day on his way to class.

Back in the UK, he worked as an associate with the fledgling London architecture practice Penoyre & Prasad from 1992-98, helping them build their name within the industry, not least through their design for the visitors' centre at the maximum-security Belmarsh prison in London.

In 1998, he fulfilled his dream of having his own practice in Glasgow and founded Gareth Hoskins Architects, initially with a small staff but now with more than 30 architects and known simply as Hoskins Architects. He was managing director when he died.

Among his many awards were UK Young Architect of the Year in 2000, UK Architect of the Year in 2006 and Scottish Architect of the Year in 2009. He was a Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) and served as an advisor to the Royal Institute of British Architects. From 2006-2010, he held the post of the Scottish Government’s National Healthcare Design Champion.

Mr Hoskins was awarded an OBE in 2010 for his services to architecture. Neil Baxter, chief executive of RIAS and a tutor to Hoskins in architectural history at the Mackintosh School of Architecture 30 years ago, told The Herald: "A of lot architects on big jobs bring with them big egos. Not so Gareth. He was a genuinely nice man, no airs or graces, and destined to be a global starchitect very soon. We are all in shock."

Gareth Hoskins reportedly suffered a heart attack during a fencing event at Fettes College in Edinburgh on January 3 and died in the capital's Royal Infirmary on January 9. He is survived by his wife Sarah and two children.

PHIL DAVISON