a life in architecture
Actor, director, writer, biographer - Simon Callow is one of Britain's most versatile and erudite thesps. His image, both on and off screen, is of one who believes in challenging convention. So it is little surprise that Callow's choice of a favourite building would raise many an eyebrow, not least in architectural circles.
'Curiously enough, I'm a great fan of Centre Point,' he says. 'I don't like anything else that Richard Seifert ever did, but I like that very much. It went up in my lifetime - I was just a kid in London when they started building it. I used to go to bookshops on Charing Cross Road and saw it rise before my very eyes. So I've always liked it.'
He suggests that Centre Point's disrepute owes more to the 'developer's scam' which left it unoccupied for years than to the building itself. 'From an architectural point of view, I think it's a rather fine and bold and imaginative piece of work,' he says. 'I think it's very exuberant. If it had a life in it, rather than just being an office block, then it would be a really interesting place.'
However, Callow has one, commonly-held, reservation: 'It's completely wrecked now by having the words Centre Point stuck on the top of it.'