Hospital architect Howard Goodman died on 22 April after a period of illness. He was 71. Ray Moss recalls his life
Perhaps the happiest years of Howard Goodman's life were the early 1950s when, as an architectural assistant, he had secured a job which enabled him to do what he most loved doing - designing hospitals. On his motorbike, he would ride around the West Country for the newly formed regional hospital board. The jobs were small, mostly make-do and mend, but he left a modest mark even then.
At 16, he had been assigned to a small firm of architects in Weston-super- Mare and studied part-time. But with the coming of the NHS in 1948, he transferred from Bristol city architects' department to Bristol regional hospital board, the first step in what was to become a most successful career.
After a series of moves, he found his spiritual home at Powell and Moya, where he worked on Wythenshawe and Wexham Park hospitals.
The lure of an advertisement from the then Ministry of Health inviting applications to form the first Hospital Design Unit under chief architect William Tatton Brown proved so strong that in 1960 Howard left to join other bright young talents at the ministry's headquarters in Savile Row.
Two years later, Howard, as team leader, and his colleagues created a radical new form of flexibility for hospital buildings - compact, low- rise, long-span and with an engineering services floor sandwiched between each hospital floor. The idea became a reality in a 770-bed hospital at Greenwich, where the district hospital has been enormously influential worldwide. The design set in train a series of developments which included Best-Buy, Harness and Nucleus.
Howard was appointed chief architect at the Department of Health and Social Security in 1971 and became the most influential hospital designer in the country. As well as overseeing the standardisation programme, he promoted new initiatives such as the mark one and two low-energy hospitals and a research project to gauge the effect of design on operating costs. In 1986, he became the first director of health buildings at the DHSS, retiring in 1988.
After this he helped establish the firm MPA as an international health strategy and planning consultancy. Over the last decade, his work ranged from specialist hospitals to primary and community health projects. In the last two years he worked with colleagues on a new strategy: larger acute hospitals with trauma centres, supported by locality hospitals with minor accident units.
But Greenwich stands as his outstanding design achievement - significant aesthetically as well as for its technical innovations. Howard could generate the broadest of design concepts but was always aware of the most basic of practical details.
He was essentially a 'hands on' architect-builder.
Ray Moss is former director of the Medical Architecture Research Unit and collaborated with Howard Goodman over many years.