Derek Bradford Passes Away


Derek Bradford, Professor Emeritus, died on Monday, 23rd January 2017.

Derek Bradford was born on October 23rd, 1936 in London, England. He attended the Northern Polytechnic School of Architecture, where he gained a Diploma in Architecture in 1960. He subsequently continued his education at the Graduate School of the University of Pennsylvania graduating with a Master of Landscape Architecture degree in 1966.

Bradford joined the RISD faculty in 1968 as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1969, and Professor in 1986. He served as the Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture from 1969 to 1972 and 1997 to 2000. He also served as Head of the Department of Architecture and Assistant Chairman of the Division of Architecture and Design from 1972 to 1975. Derek continued to teach at RISD until his retirement in 2005.

In Bradford’s work at RISD he was involved in many locally based projects including the Block Island Research Project and the Capital Center Commission. The former project was praised as an initiative that was “directed by Mr. Bradford with careful thoroughness, energy, and imagination.” As an architect and landscape designer he undertook many local, national, and international design projects, many with his wife, Sara, with whom he founded the firm Bradford Associates. In 1966 he was part of the team that produced the Potomac Report which was a landmark in rehabilitating a river that President Lyndon B. Johnson described as a “national disgrace.”

Bradford was a recognized for his outstanding teaching throughout his career, most notably in 1979 when he won the first John R. Frazier Teaching Award for being “a highly regarded teacher, conscientious, meticulous, and thoughtful.” Derek was a hardworking colleague who always made himself available for committee work. Indeed, it would be difficult to name a standing committee he had not served on during his tenure at RISD.

During his life Bradford was an accomplished traveler not least during his four month overland trip from London to India in 1962, as well as extensive trips to Europe, West Africa, and Pakistan. He had a gift for bringing these experiences and knowledge, especially of vernacular architecture, into his courses and academic life.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Royal Oak Foundation or the Cultural Landscape Foundation. There will be a memorial service on March 11, 2017, at 2:00PM, at the First Unitarian Church of Providence.  Condolences may be offered at

Derek Bradford is survived by his wife of 52 years Sara, daughters Gail C. Bradford of Orlando, FL, and Nyssa Bradford Mundy of Cumberland, RI, his granddaughters Sasha, Ella, and Georgia, his sister Brenda Lake of Bromley, England, and his Dalmatian, Betula.

Derek Bradford, obituary

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