Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The Cra-azy World of Richard Rogers
BARON ROGERS OF RIVERSIDE WAS OUTRAGED when Prince Charles wrote to a Qatari sheik about property he was developing in London. So outraged that Rogers and his Starchitect friends took out a full-page ad in the London Times in which Rogers wrote, “If the prince wants to comment on the design of this or any other project we urge him to do so through the established planning consultation process... It is essential in a modern democracy that private comments and behind-the-scenes lobbying ... should not be used to skew the course of an open and democratic planning process that is currently under way.”
But Rogers went far beyond that complaint in The Times. He orchestrated an international campaign against Charles in the Guardian, Le Monde and La Repubblica, and he persuaded an anti-royal non-profit group in Britain to complain about the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment, claiming that the Charles's actions were unconstitutional, and that his architecture foundation had broken the law. The Guardian then presented the story as though Charles and the Foundation had been found guilty before the fact - when they were not found guilty, the paper ignored the result.
Now we learn that in Mr. Rogers' neighborhood what's good for the goose is not good for the gander. Rogers was on the jury for the selection of a new design for the American embassy in London, but when he could not get his way in that process, he sent a private letter to the US State Department, urging them to fire the winning architects. "Lord Rogers, the architect of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, and Lord Palumbo, the property developer and art collector, felt so strongly about the inadequacies of the winning design," the Guardian wrote, that "they submitted a "minority report" setting out their case to the US state department in Washington, which commissioned the building."
Yes, Prince Charles is the heir to the British throne, which gives him a high profile pulpit. But Rogers was the most important advisor to the national and London governments, with official positions that for planning issues gave him more real power than Charles. He is well known for throwing his weight around behind the scenes, and his wife's restaurant is perhaps the leading gathering spot for the Old Left. Thus he can get a local politician to go to council meetings and speak out against work proposed by Charles and the Prince's Foundation, and he can throw mud at the Prince's Foundation with baseless investigations. In the end, I'd guess that what bothers Rogers the most is not that Prince Charles is heir to the throne, but that Charles's architectural opinions are far more popular with the citizens of Britain than his own.
V&V: Lord Rogers, Bully Boy
V&V: Starchitects II: The Wrath of Rogers?
V&V: Charles Is Right About Architects
V&V: Something Rotten in the State of Architectural Criticism - Alas Poor Prince!
Daily Mail: Lord Rogers is as mad as a hornet
Daily Mail: "There is a spooky uniformity among these architecture critics"
Evening Standard: After the Chelsea barracks banter, can we get back to the brief?
The Guardian: Dave Hill's London Blog
The Guardian: Charles should stick to his guns. The carbuncle crew are still hard at work
bd: Richard Rogers Vs. Prince Charles
V&V: One Problem With Richard Rogers's Architecture Is That It Isn't Really "New"
V&V: Baron Rogers: Let's not squabble about style (but New Urbanism is "tawdry pastiche").
V&V: UK Gov Promotes Modern Mansions / UK Gov & Riba Adopt New Urbanism / Lord Rogers Rejects New Urbanism
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Live from Barrytown, New York
YESTERDAY was winter. Today winter is gone and we are the only people at a Hudson River Villa called Montgomery Place.
Monday, March 01, 2010
American Makeover: The Prequel
American Makeover Needs You
Old Is The New Green
WHEN WE NEED to reduce our energy use, we can not afford to throw away our old buildings and cities. The materials that went into their construction are limited resources that contain enormous embodied energy, tearing them down uses significant amounts of energy while creating greenhouse gases, and "green buildings" today often rely on technological fixes that work less well than old solutions like thermal mass. Plus, of course, there is the argument about buildings that are loved are the most green, because they are the ones that will be preserved in the future. Very few people love glass towers.