In Spring 2010 Royal Academy ran a series of events which invited a selection of ‘critics’ to propose and make a case for what they believed to be London’s most important building. This was then debated with a panel of respondents specially selected for each building, who could open, challenge and inform the debate.
Charles Saumarez Smith: St Paul’s Cathedral
Charles Saumarez Smith, Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy and distinguished architectural historian, selected St Paul’s for its emblematic significance as the great monument to the reconstruction of London after the Great Fire, towering above the City of London, and representing the triumph of late seventeenth-century classicism. The panel of respondents included Peter Wynne Rees, planner with the City of London, Eric Parry RA, architect, and The Right Reverend Graeme Paul Knowles, Dean of St Paul’s.
Due to circumstances beyond our control, we regret there is no recording of this event.
Elain Harwood: Commonwealth Institute
Elain Harwood, an historian for English Heritage, proposed the Commonwealth Institute. Elain’s interest in the building dated back to a 1968 school trip which she missed; she finally got to see the it when the building was listed twenty years later. It was listed for its importance in the history of exhibition design, and significance in marking the transition from Empire to Commonwealth. The panel of respondents included, the architect, Alan Crawshaw, who worked for the original design team, Chair of CABE, Paul Finch and MaryAnne Stevens, Royal Academy.
Tristram Hunt: Trafalgar Square
The historian, Tristram Hunt chose Trafalgar Square because it embodies Britain’s relationship with the imperial past, from the glories of Nelson and the deeds of Napier to the great anti-apartheid rallies outside South Africa house. ‘Here all Britain’s colonial complexities are apparent.’ The panel of respondents included the architect, Ed Jones, Matthew Gandy of the UCL Urban Laboratory and Margaret Richardson, Honorary Curator for Architecture, Royal Academy.
Hans Ulrich Obrist: Fun Palace by Cedric Price
Curator and critic, Hans Ulrich Obrist proposed Cedric Price's unrealised Fun Palace. The Fun Palace (1961–74) was planned as a multi-purpose complex for theatre and cultural projects, addressing the urgent need to connect different disciplines and practitioners in a world of ever-changing parameters. The panel of respondents included Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre, Catherine Croft, Director of the Twentieth Century Society and Jeremy Melvin, Consultant to the RA Architecture Programme.