Born and raised in Ireland, Roche graduated from University College Dublin in 1945. After working in Dublin and London as an architect he moved to the U.S. to study with Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology. In 1950 he joined Eero Saarinen and Associates and in 1954 became the principal design associate, working on all of the office’s major projects. Following Saarinen’s death in 1961, Roche together with John Dinkeloo inherited the Saarinen practice. As designer, Roche was responsible for completing many of Saarinen’s major works, including the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport, Dulles International Airport, CBS Headquarters, Bell Labs Headquarters, and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis. Upon completion of Saarinen’s projects in 1966, he and Dinkeloo renamed the firm Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates.
Roche’s master planning and design projects are noted for their Modernist aesthetic and their sensitivity to creating connections to the surrounding urban context. His diverse work in the U.S., Europe and Asia encompasses museums, institutional and corporate headquarters, research laboratories, performing arts centers, theaters and campus buildings. Notable projects include the Central Park Zoo; the master plan for the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and the Oakland Museum of California.
Roche was the recipient of the 1993 American Institute of Architects Gold Medal Award, the 1977 Academie d'Architecture Grand Gold Medal, and was the second American architect to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1982.