2000 architecture - a higher profile than ever
This was the year when both architects and architecture made serious inroads into England's corridors of power. Mostly it was by way of Lord Rogers and last month's Urban White Paper, but design's stock also rose thanks to recognition of the subject's importance, emanating from the very top - Tony Blair himself. Even Prince Charles got in on the act again, proclaiming on racism from his new-look Prince's Foundation in Shoreditch. In London it was Lord Rogers again who - as revealed in the AJ - will be shaping the city, thanks to his appointment by new London mayor Ken Livingstone. And, through the continuing expansion of the government's Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, under Stuart Lipton and ex-Task Force man Jon Rouse, architecture centres in the regions will get a boost. Millennium projects were mixed - for every Tate Modern there was a cash row about a Wembley, a Portcullis House, Millennium Dome or Millennium Bridge. And, in the background, both the RIBA and ARB strove for new identities. Roll on 2001: a spatial odyssey?
In one of the stories of the year for construction, the Millennium Bridge, designed by Foster and Partners, Sir Antony Caro and Arup, was opened on 12 June by the Queen. In the days afterwards, 220,000 people went across the so-called 'blade of light', but dangerous-seeming oscillations - caused by people walking in step - spoilt the party. It has been closed ever since and is awaiting a dampening solution by the engineer (shown above)- and details on which party is responsible for costs incurred.
Other bridges were more successful, including Wilkinson Eyre Architects and Gifford and Partners' £22 million Gateshead opening bridge, installed in front of 10,000 spectators last month.
Marks Barfield Architects'phenomenally successful Stirling Prize-shortlisted BA London Eye started spinning in February.There were MBEs for the architects, and other cities immediately wanted a wheel of their own.
Personalities of the year included the aforementioned Lord Rogers (left), who battled government to include as many of his task force's recommendations as possible in the Urban White Paper. Others included RIBA president Marco Goldschmied, who was vocal on sustainability and awarded the Institute's Gold Medal to Frank Gehry (right), and the three prospective RIBA presidents: the AJ's Paul Hyett; former director general Alex Reid; and Brian Godfrey. Sad losses to the profession in the year included Sir Leslie Martin, John Hedjuk, Christian Norberg-Schulz, Derek Lovejoy, Bruno Zevi and, tragically, Scottish parliament architect Enric Miralles.
Foster and Partners triumphed in getting its 50-storey Swiss Re 'erotic gherkin' building through a protracted planning process in what was a burgeoning year for tower proposals.
Other plans came forth from Richard Rogers Partnership (42 storeys) in Paddington;
Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners (47 storeys) over Paddington Station; Broadway Malyan and Renzo Piano's 390m scheme at London Bridge; and KPF's 37-storey City tower for Gerald Ronson. But Foster 's Great Court project at the British Museum was slammed for the use of French stone in the South Portico, and the practice's headquarters scheme for the Greater London Authority was unpopular with the assembly itself. Plans for a rebuilt Wembley stadium had a rocky ride, though Foster's fared better with its Great Glasshouse in Camarthen, Wales, and the wellreceived Canary Wharf JLE station.
The popular winner of the Stirling Prize was Alsop and Stormer, which made it third time lucky after being shortlisted for the gong in the previous two years. The Peckham Library was the project, previewed in last year's review as 'surely a future award winner'.
It was a good year for galleries, many armed with cash windfalls from the National Lottery.
Walsall's £21 million New Art Gallery by Caruso St John opened in February and has since had more than 210,000 visitors - including 88 from Japan. The critically-acclaimed Tate Modern by Herzog and de Meuron opened in the reworked Bankside Power Station. And, again for Londoners, there was the National Portrait Gallery, transformed by Jeremy Dixon.Edward Jones and opened in May. Other key projects included Grimshaw's Eden Project; Future Systems'daring, disc-clad Selfridges plans in Birmingham; and Wilkinson Eyre and Michael Hopkins'Science World and Wildscreen World, respectively, in Bristol.