Walker, Robin Andrew Day (1924–91), architect, was born 30 September 1924 at 1 Catherine Street, Waterford, eldest child of Andrew Ernest Walker, bank official, of ‘Nailima’, Bailey, Co. Dublin, and Eleanor Walker (née Croker). He was educated in Dublin at St Columba's College, Rathfarnham, and entered UCD school of architecture in 1942, taking his B.Arch. degree in 1947. As a student Walker had worked under leading Dublin architect Michael Scott (qv) since 1946, and in 1947–8 went to Paris on a French government scholarship to work with Le Corbusier while studying at the École des Beaux-Arts. Briefly resuming his work with Scott, he moved temporarily in 1949 to MacGillivray & Sons in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), returning again to Scott in 1952–6. In 1956–8, with Ireland at the lowest point of an extreme economic slump, Walker availed himself of a US state department grant to study at the Illinois Technical Institute in Chicago, where he was profoundly influenced by the international style of Bauhaus modernists Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Ludwig Karl Hilberseimer, who had left Nazi Germany to work in America. While there, Walker also gained experience with the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merril.
On his timely homecoming to Dublin in 1958 with an M.Sc. in city and regional planning, he and Ronald Tallon (qv), the OPW architect, were invited by Michael Scott to form the Merrion Square-based partnership Scott Tallon Walker, a firm synonymous with Irish modernism in the subsequent boom stimulated by ‘Economic development’, T. K. Whitaker's touchstone document of the same year. Walker's other effective partnership was with Dorothy Cole, art critic and administrator to Michael Scott, whom he married 28 September 1961. They had three sons and two daughters. Dorothy Walker (qv) was as prominent in the Irish arts world as her husband was in architecture, giving their sociable home life the air of a salon, its epicurean aspects greatly appreciated by friends and colleagues. They also built a notable private art collection.
Meanwhile Walker, whose proposal for Cork opera house (1959) was turned down, successfully designed a number of distinctive Dublin buildings with emphasis on simplicity and light, including the Bord Fáilte (Irish Tourist Board) headquarters at Baggot St. Bridge (1962–6); the relocated Wesley College at Ludford Park, Ballinteer (1964–9) with its unmistakable campus style, more akin to a modern university than a secondary school; and possibly his most renowned commission, the UCD restaurant building at the Belfield campus (1967–70). A clear example of Walker's Miesian inheritance, this combination of concrete, glass, and steel bore all the elements of geometric simplicity, with a ‘floating’ balconied upper storey on narrow stilts and access to light through extensive steel-framed windows on every level. His plywood dividing panels in the storey seating area were originally painted in geometric designs by Dublin artist Robert Ballagh. For this building Walker won the RIAI triennial gold medal (1968–70).
Subsequent educational commissions included extensions both to St Columba's College, Rathfarnham (1968–71) and to St Patrick's College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare (1968–77). His AnCo Training Centre, Ballyfermot, Dublin (1978–81) was one of his last commissions as a partner with Scott Tallon Walker. Other large-scale work in Dublin was carried out for the National Bank of Ireland and for the Private Motorists' Protection Association (PMPA). He carried out restoration work for the Gate Theatre, but was equally able to design on an award-winning domestic scale that reflected his grander projects.
Apart from designing his own home at 1 St Mary's Lane, Ballsbridge, Dublin, and a family retreat, ‘Walkerstown’, a modern clachán of buildings at Bóthar Buí, Ardgroom, Co. Cork, Walker won the RIAI gold medal for housing (1965–7) for his O'Flaherty weekend house at Summercove, Kinsale, Co. Cork. This miniature horizontal structure, supported on stilts overlooking Kinsale harbour, was in reality a Miesian country cottage, utterly simple and modernist in style. In spite of his uncompromisingly modernist legacy, Walker was a great admirer of Georgian architecture, the order, clarity, and quality of which he advocated for new architecture through teaching at Bolton Street technical college in the 1960s. Closely involved in professional associations, he was vice-president (1966–7) and president (1968–9) of the RIAI, and was a member of both the Architectural Association and RIBA.
Retiring from Scott Tallon Walker in 1982, he joined An Bord Pleanála and lectured abroad on architecture. Robin Walker was as popular a speaker as he was a personality, with a reputation for erudition, style, good humour, and kindness, particularly evident in his ‘at homes’ in Ballsbridge. He died 25 February 1991 in St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, at the early age of 66 and was buried in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow. Some of his fine architectural drawings are housed in the Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.