British engineer Max Fordham, widely seen as a pioneer of sustainable building design, died on 4 January 2022 at the age of 88.
Fordham founded the building services firm Max Fordham & Partners with his late wife Thalia 'Taddy' Fordham in 1966. The firm, which later became Max Fordham LLP in 2001, employs over 250 people and was the first business in the UK construction industry to become a Limited Liability Partnership. Today it is co-owned by 119 partners.
In a statement following his death, the firm said that Fordham’s work prioritised creativity and “ensuring human comfort by giving buildings heat, power, water and ventilation in a sustainable and elegant way. Max was an acclaimed engineer and pioneer of sustainable building design (who) resisted pigeonholing into the conventional boxes of mechanical or electrical engineering and was always interested in the whole building.
Born in June 1933, Fordham started his career in engineering working at Arup (then known then as the Building Group) until founding his studio. He was also a lecturer and teacher, a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Under Fordham’s leadership his firm worked on many notable projects including Tate St Ives, Alexandra Road Estate, Judge Institute Cambridge and the Contact Theatre in Manchester.
His work was recognised by many awarding bodies. He was a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers, fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He was awarded the Prince Philip Designers Prize by the Royal Society of Art and received an OBE in 1994 for services to engineering.
The legacy of Fordham’s work and his vision will continue to inspire new generations of engineers and he will be sorely missed by all those who knew him across the industry.