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Spencer de Grey is an alumnus of Churchill (U65 and G 68). As a student, he studied under Sir Leslie Martin, a leading purveyor of the International Style that defined architecture in the early to mid 20th century. His own early career involved a number of projects in the education sector. In 1979, he set up the Foster Associates Hong Kong office, to work on the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. He returned to London two years later, becoming the director in charge of Stansted Airport's development, which he saw through to completion in 1991.
During the same period he worked on the BBC Radio Centre, Langham Place, and the Sackler Galleries at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. He became a partner in 1991, and oversaw a series of other projects in the years that followed, including the Commerzbank Headquarters in Frankfurt, the Great Glasshouse at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, the redevelopment of Dresden Station, the Sage (Music Centre), Gateshead, nine new City Academy schools in the UK and the Treasury in Whitehall. He has also been responsible for a number of projects in the United States, including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Winspear Opera House in Dallas and the competition-winning scheme for the National Portrait Gallery courtyard at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.
De Grey is also the architectural advisor for the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, Chairman of the Building Centre Trust and Chairman of the Cambridge University School of Architecture Advisory Board. He was made a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 1997 and elected a Royal Academician in December 2008.