Time & Life Building

I was wandering down Bond Street on Saturday morning trying to remember why the Time & Life Building is regarded as of such significance.   Part of it, of course, is the presence of four grand abstract sculptures by Henry Moore set into the wall to the side of the building:-

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The rest of the building is a rather bland and neutral American-style, postwar office block:-

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That is precisely its significance:  that it was built with dollars in the early 1950s as a mark of Anglo-American friendship, designed by Michael Rosenauer, a fashionable Austrian architect who was a friend of Oliver Messel and worked for Cecil Beaton before the war.   The interiors were by Hugh Casson and Misha Black.

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Burlington Gardens

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:-

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Valentino

I was tipped off that there is a new and elegant building for Valentino on Old Bond Street which has been designed by David Chipperfield.   Indeed, there is:-

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Victoria Memorial

As I was slightly early for breakfast, I made a detour on my morning walk across the parks to inspect the Victoria Memorial, one of those great and overblown monuments which it is easy to ignore.   Its design was the result of an open competition held in the summer of 1901 which was won by Thomas Brock RA, who had recently completed an equestrian statue of the Black Prince for Leeds.   It was paid for not by grant from parliament, but by subscription throughout the Empire.   The work took some time to complete.   The bottom half was unveiled on 24 May 1909 and the final monument in March 1911.   It benefits from close inspection rather than just being seen out of the car window with good bas-reliefs round the basin:-

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Somerset House

Another pleasure of visiting Photo London was having an opportunity to see and admire the luxuriant marine sculpture on the river front of Somerset House.   I’m not sure who it’s by.   John Bacon senior ?

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York Watergate (1)

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:-

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Unilever House

We had an All Staff Meeting this afternoon on the eighth floor of Unilever House which is normally closed to all but Unilever staff.   There was a small spiral staircase up onto the roof, which, like many London rooftop views, gives one a different view of the city.   Even the Walkie Talkie looked faintly interesting extending out of the potted shrubs:-

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And Herzog and de Meuron’s brick ziggurat made sense seen from a distance as if growing mesolithically out of Giles Gilbert Scott’s power station:-

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Bethnal Green

I walked yesterday through unfamiliar bits of Bethnal Green in an attempt to take a half way decent photograph of the Brady Street Cemetery, which can only be done by poking a telephone through the gate and hoping that the lens is pointing on the right direction.

I started through the Collingwood Estate, which in most weathers would be a bit grim – big, standardised, neo-Georgian blocks laid out in the 1920s and 1930s by the LCC under G. Topham Forrest.   But it looked pretty good in the sun:-

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Then the cemetery itself:-

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Cleeve Workshops

I’m not sure that I have ever done a post about Cleeve Workshops, a group of sixteen worker’s units in a yard at the back of Cleeve House on Calvert Avenue.   They were built in 1895 as one of the first parts of what became the Boundary Estate, planned by the Housing of the Working Classes Branch of the LCC Architects’ Department and designed by Reginald Minton Taylor.   They now house small cafés and fashion studios, including S.E.H. Kelly:-

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The People’s Palace

I have been meaning to do a post about the original People’s Palace, now subsumed into being the Queen’s Building at Queen Mary.   It has a long and interesting history.   Barber Beaumont, an eighteenth-century miniaturist who was trained at the Royal Academy Schools, turned in later life into an entrepreneur, establishing the Provident Life Institute and Bank of Savings. As a philanthropist, he set up the Eastern Athenaeum, a museum, library and concert hall in Beaumont Square, which later became the New Philosophic Institute in Mile End.    His legacy also made possible the construction of a so-called People’s Palace, a rival to the Alexandra Palace in combining the functions of swimming pool, winter garden and concert hall.   It was described by The Times as ‘a happy experiment in practical socialism’ and, at least to begin with, was wildly popular.   The original building was designed by E.R. Robson, the architect of the London Board Schools, but burned down in 1931.   It was taken over by Queen Mary in 1934:-

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