James Phillips was 27 years old when he died at 11.15 am on Sunday 21st September 2014 running a half marathon in Reigate Surrey.
He was running to raise funds for the Patrick Evans Foundation and collapsed a few hundred meters from the finishing line.
His cause of death was confirmed as S.A.D, Sudden Adult Death. Many of his friends were with him in those last moments. His parents, Diane and Graham, were about to board a flight to Mexico City. His father, like James an architect, was due to give a presentation at a conference. The last section of the presentation was a series of drawings and texts prepared by James for his MA entitled ‘Common Ground: An analysis of public space on an International basis’. In those first days following his death, the presentation was translated into Spanish and presented in his honour.
James attended primary school in Hong Kong, where for a brief period he went to the same school as his elder brother Daniel and younger sister Jacqui. He returned to the Chalfonts for middle school and then spent some very happy years at Dr Challoner’s Grammar School in Amersham, living at the family home, Skywood House. Daniel Phillips completed degrees in computer game design and architecture, and Jacqui Phillips a degree in fine art. She is now a portrait painter.
James had completed 5 years of architectural education at Kingston University where he formed many lasting friendships. He had enrolled for his final professional studies year at Westminster where his elder brother Daniel was also studying architecture. His first day at Westminster would have been the day after he died.
He was passionate about architecture and in his limited spare time entered Architectural competitions with the practice PMR he
had formed with his good friends. James’ Architectural Portfolio contains designs prepared with them.
James was so happy in his work. He first worked for Foster and Partners in his summer holidays and learnt the ethos of long hours and teamwork. In his ‘year out’ after his Part 1 degree he worked on the Olympic village in Alex Lifschutz’s office which he enjoyed greatly. For his MA he travelled the world with his girlfriend visiting 24 countries and documented their most important public spaces like Tiananmen Square in China, Hiroshima in Japan, Machu Picchu and Cusco in Peru.
After his MA he was very fortunate to work for Ken Shuttleworth’s office ‘Make’ where he was so happy, and made such good friends and had already become a partner. Just a week before he died he said at a family dinner in London:
“You have no idea how happy I am getting up to go to work every day... I really love my work... I am so lucky”
He was a constant presence at all social and charity events in these offices, he was a key member of all the sports teams and had so many good friends. James had worked at ‘Make’ for just a year.
The Principal Ken Shuttleworth wrote:
“He was a diligent, hardworking Partner, a sensitive architect, a joy to work with and a dear friend.”
He abseiled for the first time for charity off his project building in Croydon and ran a
5 kilometre race for the Princess Trust the Thursday evening before he died. Ken further said...
“When I had to deliver, on that Monday morning, to a stunned office the most difficult speech I have ever given, we were all in a state of shock and continue to be devastated that someone who we all loved, who was so bright and young, should be taken from us in the most tragic way at the start of what would have been a long career.”
“James was the core of many social activities and went out of his way to make sure people had a good time. He was a fabulous person to know with lots of stories to tell from his travels. He was a total optimist, up for any challenge and delighted to be involved with whatever was going on.”
“.... He is missed by his family and friends more than words can describe.”