Obituary: Derek Andrew Mickel, architect, town planner and house builder

Derek Mickel: Architect, town planner and house builder with well-known family firm
Derek Mickel: Architect, town planner and house builder with well-known family firm
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Born: 12 April, 1935, in Glasgow. Died: 15 November, 2014, in Fuertaventura, aged 79.

Derek Mickel, who has died aged 79 following a swimming accident on holiday in Fuertaventura, was an architect and town planner and chairman of the family building firm Mactaggart & Mickel.

After attending Belmont House School, the remainder of his education was at Dollar Academy and thereafter he graduated from the University of Strathclyde in both architecture and town planning. During his time as a student Derek also enjoyed a spell at Glasgow School of Art, kindling his lifelong connection to design.

His early architectural training was with Frank Burnet Bell and Partners, but after graduating he joined the firm of Jack Coia, where he was involved in the design and building of several of their avant-garde Glasgow churches.

I was introduced to Derek on the day we both started our first jobs as apprentices. Our paths took the same direction and we regularly met for lunch until transferred to full-time classes at what is now Strathclyde University.

With the sudden death of his father soon after graduation, Derek’s talents were required in the family firm of Mactaggart & Mickel. A short time later, Derek was involved in a car accident, but after surgery resumed business and set out to create new designs to reflect the changing aspirations of the buyers of Mactaggart & Mickel homes.

He was very involved in the Homes for the Future project on Glasgow Green and was instrumental in developing new forms of construction to comply with ever more stringent building regulations.

He played a large part in planning the future of the firm, and eventually became chairman of Mactaggart & Mickel where, with his quiet and friendly manner, he was greatly respected. In a family business where there were many Mr Mickels, he was known affectionately as “Mr Derek” both in the office and on site, where he visited regularly up until his death.

It is notable that he knew the names of every employee, a great many of whom benefited from his guiding hand, calming influence and the reassurance of his favourite phrase: “Nothing’s new.”

In 2013 Homes for Scotland presented him with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to housebuilding in Scotland. I count myself fortunate to have enjoyed his close friendship over 62 years, together with that of his family. Derek Mickel is survived by his wife, Ann, and son Andrew, and his grandsons, Derek and Zac.