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Honoured Mackay slams Foster

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The world-renowned British architect David Mackay, who rose to fame by his masterplanning in Barcelona, has attacked designs by Norman Foster.

Mackay, of MBM Arquitectes in Catalonia, questioned the design of the entrance to Foster's London Swiss Re building while accepting an honorary fellowship to the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) last Thursday (5 May).

Spanish resident Mackay said: 'I still believe in the Modern Movement in architecture: it's not a question of style, it's a question of attitude.

'Any architect can get a model of a building right. But I'm interested in seeing how the building meets the ground or turns a corner, ' he continued.

'We live in a different world now, where architecture pretends to be sculpture.

'For example, Foster's Swiss Re building looks beautiful at night, but I wanted to see how it met the ground. And it didn't. It could have been anywhere in the square. The entrance into the building didn't need to be where it was - that wasn't suggested by the design.

'Our discipline as architects is to give form to the design.

I wanted another dimension to the building when I walked through it, ' he added.

Mackay was presented with the award by RIAS chief executive Sebastian Tombs in recognition of his work in Barcelona, including his involvement with the Olympic Village for the 1992 games.

Mackay's astonishing attack on Foster was further emphasised when he heaped praise on Britain's other architectural lord, Richard Rogers.

'It's the responsibility of architects to inform politicians, ' he said. 'Rogers has done the profession an excellent service in trying to make politicians realise their responsibilities with regard to the design of our cities.' The RIAS 2005 annual convention 'Design Streams' took place over two days last week in the venues of Govan Old Parish Church and the Pearce Institute, Govan, Glasgow.

Other speakers at the event included Grosvenor director John Irvine, Andy Young of the Richard Rogers Partnership, Glasgow City Council's John Bury and Atkins' Peter Heath.

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