Born: 27 September, 1965, in Reading. Died: 10 January, 2013, in Edinburgh, aged 47
Edinburgh architect and rugby fanatic Anthony Rochmankowski had been thinking of writing a book, The Rugby Players’ Guide to Raising Daughters.
As the father of three young girls, Rochmankowski found this to be a subject close to his heart. Physically big and powerful – he’d been a front-row forward – he was devoted to them, doing as much as he could for his youngsters, whether it was enthusiastically dishing out unwanted advice from the hockey pitch sidelines or arranging his business pattern so he could work from home.
And the choice of sub-title for his proposed handbook pretty much sums up the family man: strong but tender. But he was also affable, imaginative and gregarious. And professionally, he was a perfectionist; an architect with a wide spectrum of experience and a passion for creating spaces infused with lightness and clarity.
His interest in architecture was sparked in childhood, by the gift of some drawing instruments, and encouraged at school where he had won a scholarship to Bryanston boarding school in Dorset.
Rochmankowski, known as Rocky, was the son of a Greek mother, Chrisoula, and Polish father, Janusz, a former prisoner of war, who had met in London.
His father died when he was three and his mother supported her son and his elder brother Andrew, through sewing and cleaning jobs. Aged 16, he followed Andrew on a scholarship to Bryanston. Both boys excelled on the rugby pitch and played together for Henley 1st team.
In 1984, inspired by those drawing materials as well as films, books and science fiction, Rocky went up to study architecture at Edinburgh University where he turned out for the first XV and for the Scottish Universities rugby team, playing as hard as he worked.
He met his future wife, Jackie, at university towards the end of his studies, and graduated with an MA, followed by a diploma, in architecture.
His first professional post, in 1989, was as an architectural assistant with Hives Partnership in Reading, working on a project for Reading University.
He went on to take up a similar post at Campbell and Arnott in Edinburgh, where his first project was working on the capital’s prestigious Saltire Court. In 1992, he moved to Planteq Building Design in Fife, as a designer and construction technician, where he was involved in residential and domestic developments.
The following year saw him take up a position as project architect and principal designer at Cochrane McGregor Group back in Edinburgh where, apart from a brief spell at David Duncan Harrold, also in Edinburgh, he remained until 2000.
By then he had worked on a huge range of commissions including industrial, leisure, education, commercial, retail, sports and residential projects for banks, a major housebuilder, energy company and Edinburgh Academicals, among others. Having amassed such a wide range of experience, he decided to set up his own general practice, Rochmankowski Associates, specialising in domestic, residential and green oak architecture. And the perfect opportunity to showcase his ethos came when establishing the venture, in 2001, which just happened to coincide with building work on his own home’s extension.
The Portobello property featured large glazed panels and the unseasoned timber known as green oak, and became the practice’s prototype style – a home that was also a marketing tool, open to clients, to illustrate his vision and skills.
The house was pictured in various publications and enhanced his profile.
The simple green oak structures, combining traditional materials with contemporary design, proved extremely popular and led to the firm being shortlisted for several regional and national awards.
The practice also expanded into other areas, including leisure and sport, and Rocky, whose rugby playing had given way to cycling, was not averse to stowing his laptop in a backpack and cycling out the meet a client.
Latterly the firm had rebranded to become Rochmankowski Architecture Design or RAD, and had been working for clients throughout the Central Belt, including Edinburgh Leisure, and attracting consulting projects from as far afield as the south of England.
Contagiously enthusiastic about many things in life – particularly Star Trek, of which he was an aficionado – his positive outlook and desire to put others’ aspirations above his own, cemented his personal popularity and professional success.
He is survived by his wife Jackie, daughters Daisy, Molly and Sally, his mother Chrisoula and brother Andrew.