The trendsetting architect who designed the London Eye has died after a battle with cancer.

David Marks and his wife Julia Barfield updated the idea of classic British county fair ferris wheel to create a new icon for the London skyline that has attracted over 60 million visitors over the last 17 years.

The Millennium Wheel, which measures 443 feet tall and has a diameter of 394 feet, pushed boundaries for technological and engineering innovation.

The £86m (€96.3m) South Bank structure, built in 2000 as part of the capital's millennial celebrations, put the husband and wife team's architectural practice Marks Barfield Architects on the map, eleven years after the business started.

The project is a monument to their tenacity and entrepreneurial acumen. Their sketches were initially an unsuccessful entry in a Sunday Times design competition.

But the pair battled on to bring the project to fruition. They found the site, obtained planning permission and mortgaging their home to meet the early costs of the project, before attracting large-scale backing.

"You train for seven years to become an architect but, with that training in leading a team, you can also lead teams of financiers, engineers, land agents and the other experts that are required," he told The Times two years ago.

He added: "We have widened the conventional architect role to encompass entrepreneurship."

The pair went on to build other eye-catching work such as the Treetop Walkway in London's Kew Gardens and the i360 on the Brighton seafront, which at 531ft is the world's tallest moving observation tower. They also built a number of art galleries, museums and residential housing.

Marks was born into a Jewish family in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1952. But he grew up in Geneva and moved to London in 1972 to attend the Architectural Association School (AA), where he met Barfield. The pair married in 1981.

Marks worked for Lord Richard Rogers, the veteran British architect – known for the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Lloyd's building and Millennium Dome both in London – before starting his own practice with Barfield in 1989.

Speaking to the Sunday Times last July, he said: "Architects don't stop, they just go on building things until they run out of breath."

He added: "Julia and I never get sick of each other. We've been married for 35 years and I can't put into words how much I love her."

Marks Barfield Architects said that Marks died on Friday (6 October) "after a long illness" surrounded by his wife and their three children Benjamin, Maya and Sarah.