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a life in architecture - john murray

Architecture and photographing architectural detail have been lifelong hobbies of publisher John Murray. Hence his affection for London's St Pancras Station (pictured), with its intricate wealth of detail. He notes that, among the mouldings: 'You even have the stationmaster holding up a model of a train on one of the columns.'

He is also a fan of the new British Library: 'People complain that it's terribly dull, but the whole point is that it's juxtaposed with one of the most flamboyant Victorian statements.' Unlike King's Cross to the east, St Pancras was raised above the Union Canal, leaving space below the platforms to store beer barrels. Built at the height of Victorian confidence, it has two elements: Barlow's train shed, the world's largest single span of its day; and Gilbert Scott's hotel, with its 'turrets, chimneys and cascades of windows', and a marvellous iron staircase inside, lit by a cathedrallike triptych window.

For Murray, St Pancras is 'one of the great skylines, and as you walk around it, it changes the whole time'. There is all that detail - the carvings, the artistry of the wrought ironwork, the distinctive lettering. 'You can't take your eyes off it!' he says.

In contrast, once you step into the courtyard of the British Library, with Eduardo Paolozzi's sculpture of Newton, you have perfect calm.

Murray compares the combination to curry and yoghurt: 'St Pancras is curry because it's so sharp and prickly, and the British Library is lovely, plain bland yoghurt - a wonderful combination.'

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