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a life in architecture

sir andrew turnbull

The list of favourite buildings drawn up by the permanent secretary to the Treasury and chair of the judges for next year's British Construction Industry Awards, Sir Andrew Turnbull, ranges from the fifth century bc Greek temple at Bassae in the Peloponnese, now sadly covered from public view, to the small dining room at No 10 Downing Street: 'Just the right size for a dinner party for 10,' says Turnbull, and he approves of its scientific theme - a bust of Sir Isaac Newton, portraits of eminent British scientists - introduced by Margaret Thatcher.

The overall favourite on his list is the Chrysler Building in New York. He likes the brightness of its materials: 'Silver against a deep blue sky, and the fact that as you walk around Manhattan, it constantly reappears. It has a kind of confidence; and the interior is equally fine.'

Turnbull includes Monticello (pictured), the Palladian villa Thomas Jefferson designed for himself at Charlottesville, Virginia, because Jefferson is his 'number one hero', more for his political achievements (Turnbull mentions the Louisiana Purchase, one of the largest land transactions in history) than for his architectural talent.

As an example of modern British architecture, Turnbull selects the new Tate Gallery at St Ives, Cornwall, designed by Evans and Shalev, as a showcase for the work of Cornish artists. He likes the way the windows frame views of the sea, the central drum which recalls the original gasholder that once stood on the site and, above all, the large stained-glass window by Patrick Heron.

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