Tuesday, 24 February 2009

New City Architecture Award 2008

Rarely does the day dawn fair when the Company's chosen assessors set out to review the short-listed buildings for the New City Architecture Awards. This year proved the exception. The assessors - comprising the Master Ian Head, the Chairman, Paul Finch, The Renter Warden Edward King, Dr Mervyn Miller, Anne Markey and the Clerk, David Cole-Adams set out to look principally at the buildings illustrated below. Decisions were reached over a bottle (or two of wine) and the Award (and possibly a Commendation or two) will be announced at the Company's Livery Banquet on Wednesday 1 April. It would be interesting to see if the judgement of casual readers of this blog coincides with that of the judges.

The results with the citations will be posted following the Banquet

1 Wood Street by Fletcher Priest Architects

5 Fleet Place by SOM

30 Gresham Street by KPF Architects

Fen Court - Landscape Scheme by City of London Corporation Street Scene Team

New Street Square by Bennetts Associates

1 Old Jewry / 36-38 Poultry by Sheppard Robson

St Paul's Cathedral South Churchyard Improvements by Martin Stancliffe /Purcell Miller Tritton

Please book your tickets for the Banquet at Drapers' Hall on Wednesday 1 April and see if your judgement was in accordance with that of the judges.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

WCCA Travel Award - 2008 - Steve Neumann reports - 17 Feb 2009

Steve Neumann

the way to Japan

Takasaki Masaharu in his office

a typical Masaharu project

The recipient of the WCCA travel award for 2008, Steve Neumann, gave a short talk about his 2008 voyage to Japan to visit the works of the renowned architect Takasaki Masaharu.  The talk took place in the architecture school of the University of Westminster, which Steve himself attends.
The audience at the talk, a mix of architecture students and WCCA members, firstly heard a report of the trip itself; then they heard advice from Steve to hopeful applicants for:

    Jaki Howes - 'Master' of Students - introduces Steve Neumann's talk.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Visit to London 2012 Site

We can pick the weather to go on an site visit! On Thursday 5 February a coach load of seekers after enlightenment from the Chartered Architects, Engineers and Plumbers Companies met for an initial look at the site of the 2012 Olympic Games. After a week of snow and ice it had the decency to merely rain as we were driven around the site in a coach whose seating arrangements would have done an Easyjet flight to the Coata Somewhere proud. We had both a PR lady and an architect from the ODA with us and they struggled to answer the battery of technical questions thrown at them. In a moment of quiet embarrassment they advised that a significant percentage of the workmen on the site were British. The embarrassment arose from the fact that the PR lady was antipodean and the architect from ODA Italian.

The photos above and alongside are courtesy of Tom Ball. The panorama being taken from the top of the Stratford Station Car park.

As can be seen the structure that is most advanced is that of the main stadium.

The Company intends to arrange these visits on a frequent basis so that we can monitor the progress. Hopefully the weather will be better and we will get something more by of specialist input from the technical team. Our colleagues from the Engineers' Company have also promised to invite us to meetings they have in the pipeline to deal with specific issues such as transportation and infrastructure.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Temple Bar photo-archive

The former Temple Bar from  afar, seemingly absorbed into Sir Chris' northwest tower of St Paul's Cathedral. - the new alley slightly out of alignment with the implied axis
Click on the image for a full size version

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

New City Architecture Award for 2008

The weather having reached the required degree of dreadfulness, it is time for the chosen assessors to consider the schemes which are eligible for the 2008 New City Architecture Award. This Award is presented annually (usually at the Livery Banquet) to the building or scheme which makes the most significant contribution to the streetscape and or skyscape of the City of London in the qualifying year. Buildings must be deemed, by the City Planning Department, to be complete free of planning conditions.

The assessors this year are: Paul Finch (Chairman), Alderman Sir Robert Finch, The Master, The Renter Warden, Assistant Dr Mervyn Miller and Liveryman Mrs Anne Markey. They will be assisted / shepherded by the Clerk.

While they make no promises that such views will be taken into consideration the Assessors would, nonethe less, welcome any views readers may have on the merits of the following short-listed schemes:

1 Old Jewry / 36-39 Poultry; architects - Sheppard Robson

120 Cheapside; architects - Fletcher Priest

10-15 Gresham Street; architects - KPF Architects

St Paul's Churchyard (South West) - Landscaping etc; architect - Martin Stancliffe

Caroone House, 14 Farringdon Street; architects - SOM

Lime Street Scene Enhancements; architects - Street Scene Team Corporation of London

Fen Court Street Scene
Enhancements; architects - Street Scene Team Corporation of London

New Street Square, London EC4; architects - Bennetts Associates

Any comments can be made via the blog and should be recorded in the near future if you seek to influence the judges!

Monday, 2 February 2009

G F Watts exhibition at the Guildhall art gallery

The English Michelangelo

Believe or believe it not, this was the popular title accorded to George Frederick Watts (1817-1904) at the peak of his painting career. You can check out whether you agree with this over-the-top complement by looking at his pictures in an exhibition now on at the Guildhall Art Gallery, running until April 26th.
Watts had a long life and a prodigious output and was enormously successful financially, very much in the Damien Hirst manner, leaving some £24M, at today’s values. Determined to enhance the painter’s reputation and maintain the commercial value of her inheritance, his widow built a gallery devoted entirely to his works at Compton in Surrey.
Born in London into a family with a piano business, he showed early promise at drawing, attended the RA schools and, aged 21, set up his own studio, gaining success as a portrait painter although sadly and perversely his ambition was to be an historical painter, following his hero Benjamin Haydon. He won the highest premium in the competition for mural designs for the new House of Parliament and, with this in his pocket, set off in1843on a ‘Grand Tour’ lasting two years. On his return, backed by an aristocratic and wealthy band of patrons, Watts became the leading portrait painter of the day despite his high charges. But this was all to a purpose because it allowed him to make a mid-career change of direction driven to paint subjects rather than people, ideas rather than portraits and social allegories rather than scenes.
Is he ‘Dickens’ of the visual arts?
His most famous work in this genre in the exhibition, entitled ‘Hope’ (see above), is a melancholy painting showing a blindfolded beggar girl seated on a rock plucking a single string of a crude wooden lyre. It had extraordinary impact at the time and also since; Nelson Mandela had a reproduction of it on the wall in his cell on Robben Island; the Rev. Jeremiah Wright the former pastor to Barrack Obama based sermons on it and its themes of hope were taken up by the President in addressing Democratic Conventions; and another Watts painting ’Love and Life’ was selected by President Roosevelt to be hung in the White House.
Watts’ reputation slumped after his death and, like much Victorian art, remained in the doldrums for many many years. Perhaps the time has now come for a re-assessment.

A post sent in by WCCA Past-Master Michael Welbank, who is Common Councilman for the Billingsgate Ward. You might be interested in reading his own blog which deals with general City matters as the elections for the Court of Common Council approach in the month of March. CLICK HERE