Richard graduated in architecture from The University of Melbourne in 1967. He then commenced full time work with Daryl Jackson Architects with whom he had worked during his undergraduate years.
He headed overseas in 1968 spending several years travelling and working in Europe, before moving to the USA where he joined Mitchell/Giurgola Architects in Philadelphia. 1976 and 1977 were spent working in Rome after which Richard returned to Mitchell/Giurgola in their New York Office. It was from here that the Partnership of Mitchel/Giurgola & Thorp was formed to enter the International Architectural Competition for the Australian New Parliament House in 1979.
Richard was the nominated architect for the new firm who were announced as the winner of the Competition on 4 July 1980. At the time, this was the largest ever architectural commission in Australia, and Richard moved to Canberra to establish an office and head up the massive $1.1 billion undertaking as Project Architect. He was joined by Senior Partner Romaldo Giurgola and several of the New York team, in an enterprise that lasted for 8 years and saw the office grow to 160 staff. Following completion of the New Parliament House on time for Australia’s Bicentennial in May 1988, Richard moved to Sydney to open a second office for the firm. The following 14 years saw Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp (MGT) emerge as one of the most highly awarded architectural firms in the Australia with major commissions across the nation as well as overseas.
After more than 40 years focussed on the design and construction of major public buildings, Richard retired from active practice in 2009, and is currently a Consultant to his firm. He has been President of the Architects Registration Board of NSW since 2004 and is a Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects; he has been an Associate of the American Institute of Architects and a Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects for many years. He was appointed a Member of the NSW Planning Assessment Commission in 2008.