Ian Constantinides, a leading figure in architectural conservation
17 September 1955 – 15 April 2013

Clementine Cecil, writing in The Guardian yesterday and on the 28 May, reports on the death of Ian Constantinides, a leading figure in architectural conservation –
 
Ian Constantinides, who has died of cancer aged 57, was one of the most innovative figures in recent British architectural conservation. Through his company, St Blaise, he brought together the worlds of building and conservation at a time when the latter was seen as marginal and impractical. With St Blaise he worked on a huge variety of projects, from great castles to bridges and follies. He helped to restore Windsor castle after the fire of 1992 and rebuilt St Ethelburga’s church in Bishopsgate, London, after its destruction by IRA bombing in 1993. Ian, a tall, wiry man with huge energy, also trained a large number of others – in his adventurous, hands-on style – who continue to play a central role in conservation.
 
He believed that each building held the answers about the best way to repair it if you looked closely enough. The human eye was the best tool, he would say, “better than the tape measure, the set square and the water level”. The test of a good repair, he said, was whether it functioned and was beautiful. “If it fails in either, then it is not a good repair.” He invited people from all the trades on to each building site and encouraged them to learn from each other.
 
Ian set up St Blaise in 1982. Under his direction, it was involved in the repair of some 150 historic buildings. The company tended to operate at the highest academic end of building conservation, for English Heritage, Cadw (the Welsh historic environment service), Historic Scotland, the National Trust and the Landmark Trust, as well as major sites such as the British Museum, where it was involved in the conservation and restoration of the stone. At the time of his death, Ian was consultant to a conservation project for the James Gibbs building at King’s College, Cambridge.
 
For his funeral, Ian gave instructions that his coffin be made of scaffolding planks with rope handles.
 
Full obituary here.