Column: A bit late to cry for London’s skyline

A 1920 collage of Trafalgar Square, in London, and New York's Newspaper Row. Written on rear of file photo: "Londoners' idea of how Americans would transform Trafalgar Square." (Providence Journal archives)

A 1920 collage of Trafalgar Square, in London, and New York’s Newspaper Row. Written on rear of file photo: “Londoners’ idea of how Americans would transform Trafalgar Square.” (Journal archives)

It’s hard to work up much sympathy for London and its citizens, who have suddenly learned that they may expect 236 more skyscrapers on their skyline. A petition of opposition has been signed by, at last count, 70 nabobs of London.

“The skyline of London is out of control,” says the document. “Over 200 tall buildings, from 20 storeys to much greater heights, are currently consented or proposed. Many of them are hugely prominent and grossly insensitive to their immediate context and appearance on the skyline. This fundamental transformation is taking place with a shocking lack of public awareness, consultation or debate.”

The petition drive is supported mostly by architects, planners, artists and academics. Signatories include the likes of Sir David Chipperfield — winner of the Stirling Prize, the British equivalent of our Pritzker. You do not qualify for a Stirling unless your buildings are “grossly insensitive to their immediate context and appearance on the skyline.” Other signers, such as architect Sarah Wigglesworth, architectural historian Joseph Rykwert and author Alain de Botton, show little or no concern in their work for threats to skylines, contexts or people, for that matter, in London or anywhere else.

To read the rest of this column, please visit The Providence Journal.

 

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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