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Architect, Partner Killed in Terror Attack

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

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A respected British-Australian architect and his pregnant partner were among dozens of victims killed in the weekend terrorist attack in Kenya, media outlets and the architect's firm reported Monday (Sept. 23).

Architect Ross Langdon, 33, and his Dutch partner, Dr. Elif Yavuz, 33, were killed in the Nairobi shopping center siege that has left at least 68 people dead and at least 175 injured, reports said.

Ross Langdon and Elif Yavuz

Architect Ross Langdon and his pregnant partner, Dr. Elif Yavuz, were killed in a terrorist attack at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi mall on Saturday. A friend said the deaths were a "major global loss."

The couple were expecting their first baby in two weeks, news reports noted.

Mr. Langdon was a founder and Director of Regional Associates, which describes itself as an "award-winning, enthusiastic and dynamic architecture and research consultancy specializing in unconventional, sustainable design solutions."

Siege on Shopping Mall

Reports indicated that 10 to 15 terrorists armed with guns and grenades stormed the Westgate shopping complex midday Saturday (Sept. 21), going store to store killing people and taking shoppers hostage.

The militants—believed to be from the Somali-based group al Shabaab—then occupied the four-story building.

The situation remained volatile and uncertain Monday afternoon (Sept. 23). Kenyan authorities were expressing confidence that security officials had retaken control of the building and most of the hostages had been released, but said that some gunmen might still be inside.

A search of the building was expected to continue into Tuesday (Sept. 24).

Most of those killed and injured were Kenyans, reports said.

Langdon Remembered

A dual citizen of Britain and Australia, Mr. Langdon had a passion for sustainable design and had worked on a number of large-scale urban studies and small residential projects, according to Regional Associates, which he co-founded in 2008.

In a statement, the firm described the architect as “profoundly talented and full of life,” saying he had enriched lives of those around him.

TEDxKrakow / YouTube

Originally from southeastern Tasmania, Ross worked on projects in Africa, Europe and Australia. He gave a TED talk in 2012 about his architecture contributions.

“Ross's leadership on projects throughout East Africa was inspirational, and he will be will be very, very sorely missed by us all,” his firm said in a statement.

Included in his architectural accomplishments was an AIDS hospital in Kenya, which he designed for free.

Education, Awards

Mr. Langdon graduated from the University of Sydney in 2004, with first-class honors and the University Medal, according to his biography on Regional Associates’ site.

In 2010, the designer was jointly awarded the Alumni Award for Young Alumni Achievement from the University of Sydney for his “pursuit of excellence in the field of architecture on projects located across Australia, Europe and Africa.”

Last year, the architect gave a TEDx (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talk about his work on a number of eco-lodges and smaller cultural projects in Africa.

TEDx offered condolences in a blog post.

Harvard-Educated Partner

Mr. Langdon’s partner, Dr. Yavuz, was from the Netherlands and recently graduated from Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, with a Ph.D. in public health policy. She was a specialist on malaria, reports said.

Dr. Yavuz worked for the Clinton Foundation’s health access initiative in Tanzania and had recently met the former president.

A colleague told the Huffington Post, "Elif was brilliant at her job and a joy to work with."

It is believed that the couple were in Nairobi for superior medical care.

Words of a Friend

Colleagues and friends of the couple have offered a multitude of tributes via social media, where news originally broke that they were among the victims, reports said.

Peter Adams, a friend of the couple, wrote in a blog post, "Besides a personal loss for myself, this is a major global loss."

He noted that the couple were dedicated to "bringing about change to a tattered world based—not on religious grounds or economic gain—just a pure love for all humanity and the natural world."


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Color + Design; Design; Fatalities; Health and safety

Comment from Kent Lenhard, (11/17/2013, 1:20 AM)

As a fellow architect looking at their work to help humanity, I feel the world has lost two exceptional people who desired to make this a better place after they passed through. May God bless them both.

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