a life in architecture simon thurley
'They are among the greatest contributions this century to the London streetscape, ' says Simon Thurley, director of the Museum of London, of his initial two choices.
The first is the Daily Express Building, London, designed by Ellis Clarke and Ronald Atkinson with Sir Owen Williams, and currently undergoing refurbishment. 'When it was built in 1932, with its black glass and chrome, it must have looked staggering to the people going down Fleet Street. It was probably the first curtain wall building in London and still has the power to look incredibly modern. I think it's a building of genius.'
Thurley's second choice is Peter Jones in Sloane Square, by William Crabtree with Slater and Moberly, 1938 (above). 'Again it has a metal frame with glass curtain walling.
It's in a fabulous position on Sloane Square, it's the one thing that makes Sloane Square a rather wonderful place to be. When you consider some of the more recent contributions to the London streetscape, you can barely hope to find two buildings which have been put up over the last 10 years which are going to look fresh and modern in 70 years time.'
Pressed to include a third building, Thurley nominates the Museum of London, by Powell and Moya. 'A remarkable survival because soon there will be nothing from the early 70s left in the City.The museum will be the sole representative of an incredibly important phase of reticent Modernism that is just coming out of the doldrums.'