An­ar­chic ar­chi­tects

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

ONe of the most heated con­ser­va­tion cam­paigns of the past four decades is back in the spot­light with a new ex­hi­bi­tion at the Ar­chi­tec­ture Gallery of the royal In­sti­tute of Bri­tish Ar­chi­tects, 66, Portland Place, W1. ‘Mies van der rohe and James Stir­ling: Cir­cling the Square’ (March 8 to June 25) ex­am­ines the con­trast­ing ap­proaches of the ar­chi­tec­tural gi­ants prop­erty de­vel­oper Peter Palumbo com­mis­sioned to bring his dream for a ma­jor new build­ing in the City of Lon­don to life. Lud­wig Mies van de rohe’s orig­i­nal scheme for a 19-storey bronze-clad tower won plan­ning per­mis­sion in 1969, but it took Lord Palumbo un­til 1981 to se­cure all the free­holds on the site near the Bank of eng­land. When it be­came clear that the plan would mean bull­doz­ing sev­eral listed build­ings, in­clud­ing the tur­reted neo-gothic branch of Map­pin & Webb on the cor­ner of Poul­try, there was wide­spread op­po­si­tion. It went to a pub­lic en­quiry and Palumbo lost. Un­de­terred, he turned to Stir­ling and en­dured another pub­lic in­quiry be­fore fi­nally win­ning. In the ul­ti­mate irony, Stir­ling and Michael Wil­ford ’s No 1 Poul­try, which the Prince of Wales once likened to ‘a 1930s wire­less set’, was listed at Grade II* at the end of last year, mak­ing it the coun­try’s youngest ever listed build­ing. Jack Watkins

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