Brave Morrison had plenty to shout about
Ifthere was an annual award for moral courage in architecture, it would this year surely go to Graham Morrison for his hardhitting 'icon' speech at the Royal Academy (AJ 8.7.04). While I have never seen so many stonefaced expressions among the great and the good on the more 'iconic' tables, it made exactly the sort of stir that we need to open discussion on the issue that I have long described as 'landmarkitis'.
There is a terrible tendency within the profession, and especially within the schools, to look for applause from our peers (or our Piers? ) rather than do the vitally important, but less glamorous, job of creating places by the employment of the 'excellent ordinary'.
Morrison's exhortation is well timed to help us take stock, and to remind us that good architecture should be an enduring exercise that is more to do with making buildings work beautifully for our clients, the users and their successors, than it is to do with the instant impact and the 'look at me, aren't I clever'magazine coverage.
Having said this, the Swiss Re building and Birmingham Selfridges do it for me, as do many of the new 'icons'. So, as in most things in our game, there are few rules that can be universally applied - except maybe the rule that before we design a building that shouts, we should ask how history will judge us.
George Ferguson, RIBA president, London