Honouring the great and the good
As you would expect in the year 2000, the 'Summer Exhibition 2000' at the Royal Academy is littered with drawings and models of grand millennial projects - the Millennium Dome, the BALondon Eye, Somerset House and so on. But it is disappointing that, in what has been an exceptional year, architecture has been consigned to the rather remote Gallery X as opposed to the grand and prominent Gallery VIwhich it occupied last year. This room is small by Royal Academy standards and rather sparsely populated, partly because of the hanging committee's particularly rigorous culling policy.
Not surprisingly, the standard of the work which has made it to the exhibition is uniformly high. There is the usual smattering of high-profile projects by Royal Academicians: Foster at Wembley; Cullinan in Cambridge; Ritchie in Leipzig; and Rogers in Rome. The most notable of these is the winner of the AJ/Bovis Grand Award, a model of the galleries at Pallant House submitted by Colin St John Wilson in association with Long & Kentish Architects. Wilson has carried off the masterstroke of persuading the likes of Eduardo Paolozzi, Patrick Caulfield and Howard Hodgkin to create miniature versions of their work to go on display inside the model. The result is a doll's house-like creation which is all the more attractive because of its simplicity. The project gained the unanimous approval of the AJ/Bovis Awards judges: Richard MacCormac representing the RA; services consultant Tim Battle of Rybka Battle; John Anderson, managing director of Bovis Land Lease; AJ editor Isabel Allen; and AJ The Richard Rogers Partnership picked up the Design Award for the best drawing, model or graphic representation. There are various Rogers projects on show but the award went to a collection of mini-models of 12 of the practice's buildings - a submission which resembles a display in a sweet shop more than a Royal Academy exhibit.
John Miller won the non-Academician's award for drawings of Runcorn Arts Centre and the Playfair project for the National Galleries of Scotland, which also picked up the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects award for measured drawing. This year the judges gave two special awards, one for Paul Emsley's chalk drawing of the Millennium Dome under construction; the other for Philip Smithies' three skilful and unashamedly old-fashioned pen-and-ink drawings of Sir James Stirling's art and furniture collection.
Other projects which caught the judges' attention included an ink drawing by Haworth Tompkins Architects, which maps out 500 coordinates for Regent's Park Open Air theatre, and 'N-urban plasma' by Joseph Robson - an unusually beautiful computer rendering. Quirkier exhibits include three Louis Hellman cartoons depicting the builder, the architect and the client, and Leonard Manasseh's painting of a house, a work which he executed in 1942.
There are surprisingly few models on show this year, although Gumuchdjian & Spence's model of a recycled cardboard building in the Millennium Dome particularly stands out.