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A note from Andy Hayles on the passing of Max Fordham


Portrait of Max Fordham standing outside against an iron railing of a staircase.

I was so saddened to hear of Max’s passing. I was lucky enough to work with him, Steve Tompkins and Roger Watts on the redevelopment of London’s Royal Court Theatre.

Not only was he incredibly patient with a pretty green theatre consultant but he was also fearless in asking what might at first appear to be a stupid question, and yet always taken seriously! It was a real inspiration for a young designer; the lesson being, it’s definitely okay to be inquisitive and it is critical to challenge the conventional way of doing things!

Although his portfolio of important buildings is encyclopedic, his work in the performing arts is often missed. It was exemplary, and the practice not only became the ‘go to’ for M&E advice for many theatres and concert halls over the years, and also spawned a number of excellent younger practices carrying his torch for sustainable, accessible public buildings.

When we founded Charcoalblue we spent a wonderful afternoon with Max to glean what wisdom we could in attempting to establish our own long-lived, collegial, enjoyable and expert practice.

His advice? ‘Get someone clever in to look after the business and make sure people pay you on time, so that you can concentrate on the important stuff: design!’

He was an inspiration!

Our condolences to Max’s family and friends.

I am so proud to have worked with, and learned from him.

photo of Andy Hayles standing against a bright blue background

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Supporting the industry internationally since 2004

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