I had never seen Cutler’s Hall, just north of Paternoster Square, designed by T. Tayler Smith and with a terracotta frieze by Benjamin Creswick, a young knife-grinder who turned sculptor under the tutelage of Ruskin and died in 1946, having been Professor of Sculpture at the Royal Birmingham Society. The frieze shows the craft processes of the cutler – forging, grinding, hafting and finishing:-
Since it was such a beautiful morning, I took a slight detour to see 30, Old Bailey, a recent building by Sauerbruch Hutton on a site just west of Paternoster Square, where the scale of the building is masked by the use of coloured fins:-
I walked down the Regent’s Canal and was struck by how hugely beneficial it is that, whether because of poverty or ecology, Tower Hamlets has allowed the verges of Mile End Park to run wild, so that Canary Wharf pops up out of an overgrown meadow:-
Yesterday, I was walking down Cockspur Street and noticed the astonishingly elaborate metalwork decoration above one of the doors of the Brazilian Embassy. It was done by Ernest Gillick, an ARA who did much 1920’s commemorative sculpture, including a medal for the Royal Academy Schools. The building, designed by Arthur Bolton in 1906, had been taken over by P&O from the Hamburg America Line in 1918 as reparation for the first world war. P&O then commissioned Gillick to do grand statues of Britain and the Orient – Britain as a Roman centurion with a putto holding a trident on the right, the Orient as a Nubian slave – and the company motto QUIS SEPARABIT in between:-
I did one of my regular tours of our building project. Each time one can see the signs of progress. The Lecture Theatre is now a grand empty volume:-
It was such a beautiful, crisp early summer morning that I walked from Blackfriars to Piccadilly by way of Embankment Gardens. I realised that I have never known the history of the York Watergate, a curiously unobtrusive memento of Caroline London half buried in the gardens close to Charing Cross station. It marks where the banks of the Thames originally were before the construction of Victoria Embankment by Joseph Bazalgette and was the entrance to the original York House, one of the great Thames-side mansions, called York House because it was owned by the Archbishops of York. York House was acquired by the Duke of Buckingham in 1624 and the Watergate was added two years later. Its attribution is disputed, but a list made by Nicholas Stone’s nephew Charles Stoakes of ‘Some of the Eminent Workes’ undertaken by his uncle includes ‘The water Gate att Yorke House (which) hee desined and built’. This seems perfectly plausible as an attribution, as it looks more like the work of a sophisticated artisan following continental models than a work by Inigo Jones himself:-
I started the day at a breakfast meeting in the Ingenia Building in Broadwick Street in the heart of Soho. It was designed by Richard Rogers to allow the creative team at Ford Motors to benefit from a total immersion in the life of the city:-
It’s a while since I’ve been on a tour of our building project in Burlington Gardens. A lot has happened in the intervening two months.
The scaffolding is up:-
By chance, I found myself in the same neighbourhood tonight as last night because I went to see Eileen Cooper’s exhibition at Rook & Raven in Rathbone Place. It was closed. So, I took the opportunity of checking out how Denmark Street was faring under the strain of redevelopment. I thought remarkably well:-
Whilst walking down Oxford Street earlier this evening, I spotted a hollow façade, propped up with nothing behind it, which struck me as an emblem of the volume and scale of the current reconstruction of London. There is a lot of discussion of the huge number of new tower blocks (see the vigorous and sarcastic denunciation of Boris Johnson’s planning policy by Rowan Moore in the Observer last Sunday), but much less commentary that I am aware of about the amount of rebuilding which is going on at the moment. Is it a boom ? Are we about to have a crash ? Aren’t these things cyclical ?