Valentine Gunasekara (born 31 January 1931) is a Sri Lankan architect. He became very influential in his country’s architecture history in the post-independent period.
Valentine Gunasekara was born to an elite Catholic family in colonial Ceylon. His father, Danny Gunasekara was a landed proprietor who had lost his wealth in the Great Depression of the 1920s. He died when Valentine was 2½ years old, and Valentine’s mother had to raise a family of eight children on her own.
Valentine Gunasekara was educated at the Royal College Colombo, a school modeled on a Victorian grammar schoolpredominantly attended by the children of the rich and privileged of the Ceylonese society of the time. He studied at the Architectural Association (AA) school in London and became a modernist architect. He had further participated in the course on tropical modernism run by Maxwell Fry at AA Tropical School.
Valentine Gunasekara began his architectural career as a partner in 1959 alongside the Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa in Edward, Reid and Begg (ER&B). In 1965, he won a Rockefeller grant and spent the whole of the following year touring the United States and personally meeting famous American architects such as Louis Kahn, Kevin Roche, Charles Eames, Richard Neutra, Paul Rudolph, Phillip Johnson, and Kevin Roche. He then set the goal to create a new architectural style for his country based on Modernism, thus becoming one of the country’s boldest expressionist modernist architect.
Owing to his conflicts with Geoffrey Bawa at ER&B, he withdrew from the practice in 1969 with eight others and commenced to set out on his own. Christopher de Saram joined his practice from 1969 to 1974. They collaborated on an array of projects, including the Tangalle Bay Beach Hotel in Tangalle, Southern Sri Lanka. Jayati Weerakoon became his lead structural engineer, and the two worked together in numerous complex projects.
In the early 1980s, Valentine Gunasekara worked in Nigeria on government.
He became a teacher in Wentworth College, a small private school in Boston, and later moved away and retired in 2002 in California.
Valentine Gunasekara married Ranee Jayamanne in 1962, and they had eight children.