George Ferguson named Honorary Academician


George Ferguson, world-renowned urbanist and Bristol’s first democratically elected mayor, has been made an Honorary Academician of The Academy of Urbanism. He joins Jan Gehl, Wulf Daseking and Christer Larsson in this prestigious role.

Ferguson, who played a key role in the formation of the Academy and served as one of its founding Directors, was inaugurated at last week’s Urbanism Awards Ceremony with a poem by Ian McMillan, the Academy’s poet-in-residence.

Speaking at the Awards Ceremony, Ferguson reiterated his desire for the Academy to work more closely with Bristol and to use the city as a laboratory for learning.

AoU Honorary President John Thompson read out the following citation at the ceremony, celebrating Ferguson’s contribution to good urbanism thus far.

A poem for George Ferguson CBE

Trousers like a sunset
Mind like an August day
Glasses gaze to the future:
George Ferguson, OK.

Ideas like a cascade
From early dawn till night;
Mayor with a sense of purpose:
George Ferguson, all right

Urbanist and thinker
Steering Bristol’s ship
Through 21st century waters
George Ferguson, hip hip

Hooray we’re shouting
Then ‘Good for George!’ we cry
Philosopher and do-er
George Ferguson, fly high

Across the urban landscape
Your ideas helped to mould
George Ferguson the pioneer
George Ferguson the bold!

George Ferguson CBE: Honorary Academician

George Ferguson has had a distinguished career as an architect and urbanist. In addition to running his own practice in Bristol, he founded Acanthus, a UK-wide network of conservation oriented architectural practices, and was elected to serve as President of the Royal Institute of British Architects between 2003 and 2005. From this leadership role he encouraged and enabled the formation of The Academy of Urbanism, serving on its Board until 2011.

It is, however, his broader application of urbanism principles that is being celebrated with this award. George has always had a passion for imaginative, yet sensitive, placemaking and his track record includes a broad range of significant projects and community campaigns in urban regeneration, notably in Bristol, his adopted home since he studied architecture there in the 1970s. George took his environmental consciousness and community activism much further than most, with the purchase and re-use of the Tobacco Factory, including the founding of a Shakespeare theatre and brewery, together with several distinctive social enterprises.

Through his RIBA and Academy roles, George studied the leading policies and practice of sustainable urbanism across the globe, and has sought to translate these lessons into reality following his election as Mayor of Bristol in 2012, the first independent Mayor to lead a major city in Britain.

As part of the progressive policy initiatives and placemaking events, George led the team that secured for Bristol the title of European Green Capital 2015, which has seen a remarkable series of events, projects and civic learning rolled out across the City. George continues to promote Bristol across different media all across the world, as an example of one of Europe’s most liveable and creative cities.

In recognition of his very distinctive ‘applied’ contribution to the cause of progressive urbanism, combined with his enduring passion for People, Place and Planet, The Academy of Urbanism is delighted to confer on George Ferguson CBE the status of HONORARY ACADEMICIAN.

Image of George Ferguson by Chris Bahn

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