Following a long and distinguished career spanning over 37 years, Rio Architects' Founding Director and Architect, Huw Lloyd Jones announces his retirement from architecture.

After 22 years with Rio Architects, Huw will retire from his duties with a phased approach, being retained as a consultant to ensure a smooth transition with existing clients and providing support through 2022.

Huw graduated from the Plymouth School of Architecture in 1987 with a BA Hons degree (1st class) and Welsh School of Architecture with a BArch in 1989.

Huw’s career started from humble beginnings in 2000 when after years of working together, he and Richard Roberts became founding Directors of Rio Architects.

He has helped lead the growth of the practice over the past 22 years, where hard work, good fortune and loyal clients have resulted in the business growing into the successful practice it is today. His architectural work spans diverse sectors, particularly in university work, residential development, office projects and a raft of student accommodation buildings across the UK.

With his extensive experience, Huw has approached architecture on the premise that the expression of the buildings should resonate with their function. Huw’s career with Rio has been diverse and rewarding and is pleased to be leaving Rio on such a high.

Here’s what Huw has to say: “After 22 years alongside Rich navigating the Rio ship through calm and stormy waters, the stars are aligned for me to embrace terra firma and retire as a director. The voyage has been exhilarating, challenging and great fun in equal measure. My experience has been enriched by the people I have worked with and the clients who have put faith in our ability to make a difference. Life is all about memories, and I will treasure those that have arisen from the serious business of creating architecture including those that happen through the humour of good friendship.

I look back with enormous pride on what Rio Architects has achieved. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with the talented people that have enabled Rio to flourish in my time as a director. 

Good architecture thrives on the energy and talent of motivated people, and good business relies on leaders to nurture and encourage that latent potential. Leadership demands its own energy and it's important to recognise when those demands are best served by others.

My decision to retire has not been taken lightly, but it is done in the knowledge and reassurance that Rio is very well placed without me to go from strength to strength and thrive. I wish Rio Architects the very best of fortune in the coming passage of its history – bon voyage.”

Richard Roberts added:

“Time flies”, as the saying goes.

 It only seems like yesterday that Huw Lloyd Jones and I were sitting in a café in Pontacanna deliberating the creation of what has now become one of the largest architectural practices in Wales and a thriving design studio. Since then, Rio architects have built a strong reputation for the successful delivery of innovative, stimulating and responsible designs across a wide range of sectors and now boasts offices in Edinburgh and London as well as its Cardiff HQ.

Working alongside Huw for over 20 years, and as a colleague in other practices before that, has been a blast. Huw’s architectural legacy speaks for itself but he has accomplished much more. I have witnessed first-hand his inspiring leadership and dedication, professional attitude, architectural talent and pragmatic approach to management, all of which have played an important role in Rio’s growth. Having devoted the best part of a quarter of a century to the business, Huw leaves Rio in a very strong position, both financially and architecturally.“

From the start, Huw and Richard have shared a vision to create the best possible solutions for our clients, something that cannot be achieved without the backing of our creative, talented and experienced team. With this approach, Rio has become an award-winning practice with an environment and culture that breeds talent: the achievement of which we are immensely proud.

Huw will continue to work at Rio until the end of the year overseeing the smooth transition of his projects. Richard will now take ownership of the business and work closely with co-directors Andrew Baker and Mike Dacey and Rio’s committed senior management team will see that the vision and culture of Rio architects continue to go from strength to strength. Over the following months, The Board will make further announcements in relation to the practice structure and exciting plans for future development.

Huw will be greatly missed by everyone at Rio and we all send him the very best as he enters retirement and pursues new interests and pastimes.

To mark Huw’s retirement, we rounded up 10 of his most prestigious projects over the last 20 years with Rio Architects.

Highlights include Cardiff University’s familiar Bioscience hub in Cathays, with its unusual hexagonal colour-glazed façade. The RIBA award-winning student union building for The University of South Wales and master planning projects like Severn Quay in Chepstow and St Winefrides in Cardiff, a legacy of housing that Rio Architects can be proud of.