-Profile of The Famed Architect, Astute Politician and Consummate Socialite
Look who just joined the septuagenerian club. It is none other than Lagos famed architect, politician and society patriarch, Lanre Towy-Coker. However, rather than tool out the drums and have an elaborate ceremony, the gregarious fellow, a keen golfer and former Lagos State Commissioner for Housing, Towry-Coker opted to celebrate his 70th birthday quietly in the sophisticated manner he is noted for.
From an iconic Lagos family, Towry-Coker's father, was a distinguished Civil Engineer who in the early 60’s was the planning adviser to the late Malayan Prime Minister, Tunku AbdulRahman. Towry Street on Lagos Island is named after his family and his company, Towry Coker & Associates (TCA) is regarded as one of the leading architectural companies in Nigeria. He was married to Bisi, the daughter of Chief Chris Ogunbanjo, leading Nigerian legal luminary and industrial and property czar, who is in his 91 next month. Their marriage was blessed with three children and grandchildren.
Towry-Coker was educated at the prestigious Architectural Association School of Architecture, London. He then went to Thames University, where he completed his Royal Institute of British Architects’ part 1 exams. Towry-Coker, who holds a Post-Graduate qualification in Architecture from the University of North East London, completed his professional training at the world famous Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). He is also an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in the United Kingdom (ACI.Arb.) and a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (FNIA). He is also a graduate of the renowned Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration (OPM), in the United States of America (which he attended as a full-fledged professional in the course of his brilliant career).
A seasoned Architect, who started his own architectural practice in 1976. Towry-Coker has originated numerous prestigious building all over Nigeria and has won numerous awards. He was one of the original planners of Abuja and takes credit for originating the initial concept of the first hotel in the relocated Federal Capital, Abuja Sheraton Hote (now re-christened Meridien), won the competition to design the Abuja Conference Centre which was completed. Not long ago he was adjudged the best entry in an international competition (which attracted a total of 110 entries) to design the World Bank resident mission headquarters, and residences in Abuja, which was commissioned. He has in his professional career designed and supervised several major buildings all over Nigeria.
Towry-Coker is the former Chairman of the Public Relations Committee and International Relations Committee of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, NIA. He led numerous delegations of the NIA to different types of organized parallel international and regional professional bodies. Also, he was NIA’s representative at the world photo – voltaic association arranged by the International Union of Architects and led the Institute’s delegation to a forum held in Australia under the auspices of the Commonwealth Institute of Architects. In 1997, he headed the Nigerian mission to the United States Building Business Symposium.
His public sector career has been no less eventful and memorable. Towry-Coker was chairman Lagos State Waste Disposal Board, and was the Chairman of the Lagos State Luna Parks. He was also privileged to serve as Chairman of the Lagos State Investment Promotion Council and on the Technical Committee on Open Spaces. In 1999, Towry-Coker was appointed the pioneer Honourable Commissioner for Housing in Lagos State. He served as a full cabinet member for four years, before returning to the private sector in 2003. He was a Member of the Presidential Committee on Housing and Urban Development, inaugurated by the President Commander-in –Chief of the Armed Forces, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2001-2002.
He also served as Special Adviser on Housing and Urban Development for former President Olusegun Obasanjo, accompanying him to several Countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe and then being sent back to South Africa to conduct and write a report on the South Africa approach to Housing delivery. During his tenure as a Commissioner, Towry-Coker completed no less than four large abandoned estates and initiated another fifteen housing estates in Lagos State.
A much traveled individual whose professional practice has taken him to no fewer than 36 countries scattered all over six continents, Towry-Coker is a member of the Nigerian-Asian Chamber of Commerce, Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce and the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA). He is a founding member of the Nigerian-German Business Council, a member of the Nigerian Finnish Chamber of Commerce and he belongs to the boards of a number of companies and bodies including charitable organization like the Chris Ogunbanjo Foundation, Centre for Conflict Resolution and the Centre for the Promotion of an Industrial Society.