Athenaeum

I was asked to give a lunch-time talk to the Romney Street Group at the Athenaeum, that great Greco-Roman palace in Waterloo Place.   It was designed in 1824 by Decimus Burton, who was only 24 at the time, the son of a builder contractor, James Burton, employed by Nash in the construction of the Regent’s Park Terraces.   Decimus was educated at Tonbridge School and then the Royal Academy Schools and was taken under the wing of Nash at an early age to design Cornwall Terrace and Clarence Terrace.   The Athenaeum was originally meant to match the United Services Club opposite, now the Institute of Directors, but by 1830 when it opened it had acquired more gravitas, with a bust of Athene, recently re-gilt, over the front entrance and a cast of the Parthenon Frieze below the parapet:-

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2 thoughts on “Athenaeum

  1. Christopher Nevile says:

    It is fascinating how nineteenth century teenagers were given extraordinary opportunities to ‘have a go’. Pugin and young Burton in particular.
    I understand that 40 is now the average age at which an Architect can expect to be taken seriously and that after a seven year schooling.
    What have we missed by waiting so many years to see Zaha Hadid’s work actually built and what might Heatherwick have come up with if he had been trusted
    to design a new bus for the Millennium?

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