The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


Tribute to Dr Patricia Hillebrandt

22 August 2022

Dr Patricia Hillebrandt has passed away.

Dr Patricia Hillbrandt

The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction is deeply saddened to learn that Dr Patricia Hillebrandt, the doyenne of construction economics, has passed away on 21 July at the age of 92.

In a career spanning nearly 50 years, Dr Pat Hillebrandt spent most of her professional life working with, teaching and researching the construction industry, its firms and its institutions. Her Economic Theory and the Construction Industry (1974) is seen as a seminal piece of work.

Her work took her all over world including Egypt, Sri Lanka, Russia, Latvia and Tanzania. While not the first economist to study or write about construction, she led by using economic concepts and analysis to develop valuable insight and understanding of what was happening in the business of construction.

In the late sixties, she took up a senior lectureship at UCL where she researched and taught building economics and management at the Building Economics Research Unit (BERU) based at the Bartlett School of Architecture and Planning from 1967 to 1980, and was a co-founder of the Masters course in Building Economics and Management, with Professor John Andrews, which eventually was re-titled the MSc Construction Economics and Management, the longest established of our MSc offerings in BSSC.

The Director of The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction, Professor D'Maris Coffman said: “We are saddened to learn of Dr Patricia Hillebrandt’s death. She was, along with Peter Morris, who passed away last year, one of the intellectual founders of The Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management. If Peter represented project management, Pat represented construction economics - at the industry and firm levels - which we see well-represented in our current embodiment as The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction, including especially in work that accounts for the embedded carbon in construction. Pat was a giant in her field, and a pioneer. As a female academic with a gender-neutral name, I can relate to her view that people thought Dr Pat Hillebrandt was a man before they met her, which worked to her advantage. And sadly, many decades later, I still encounter men and women who ask what a woman is doing running a department of construction. But happily, I can point to trailblazers like Pat in my replies. She will be missed by her family and friends, but her work will endure and continue to inspire.”

Dr Pat Hillebrandt was by all accounts a delightful person who was generous with her time and hospitality and will be missed by many. She leaves her sons, their spouses and their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Please click below to read Dr Patricia Hillebrandt’s full obituary.