Architecture’s master of light passes – The Post

Architecture’s master of light passes

Among colleagues, Henning Larsen was known for his use of light – He was known to everyone else for walking out on a project funded by the country’s richest man

June 23rd, 2013 5:27 pm| by admin

One of the nation’s most recognised architects, Henning Larsen, passed away yesterday. He was 87. 

Frederiksberg Gymnasium, another of Larsen's characteristic designs

In Denmark, Larsen is best known for being the architect who designed Copenhagen’s Opera building. Equally famous is the dispute he had with Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, the man who funded its construction, and with whom Larsen had a falling out with over the building’s design.

Their clashes led to Larsen quitting the project in 2002, two years before construction was completed.

In a 2009 book about his experience working with Møller, titled ‘De skal sige tak!’ (Say thank you!), Larsen attacked the mogul for his interference in the design process, including his insistence that the front facade window include a grille.

Larsen’s designs – many of which he received awards for – were recognised for their use of natural lighting, and earned him the moniker ‘master of light’ among his colleagues. Larsen felt Møller’s demands, particularly the grille, “destroyed’ the building”.

Larsen, perhaps, would have chosen to highlight other works including the Saudi foreign ministry building (1984), the Malmö, Sweden public library (1999), and Iceland’s University of Reykjavik (2010), as the works he wished to be remembered by.

In Denmark, his most recognised buildings are the main branch of the Gentofte Public Library (1985) Copenhagen Business School (1986), the addition to the New Carlsberg Glyptotek (1999) and the Copenhagen headquarters of Nordea bank (2000).

Born in Jutland, Larsen was originally a carpenter before beginning architecture studies in Copenhagen in 1952. He later went on study and work in both the US and the UK before starting his own studio in Copenhagen in 1959. That office today employs 100 architects.

The Copenhagen Opera. Larsen felt it looked like Buick. Others have jested it looks like a toaster. The man who paid for it wanted it that way (Photo: Scanpix)