Questioning the status and purpose of architectural 'icons'must be healthy, especially for an architectural media which sometimes seems obsessed by image and little else. Graham Morrison's thoughtful analysis at the AJ/Bovis Royal Academy dinner is reported on our news pages this week; there was a piquant moment looking round the room to realise that many of the architect guests present have been responsible for icons up and down the land. It must be said that the Morrison thesis is not that iconic buildings are necessarily bad, but that there must be some distinct valid purpose in the programme to generate what may be an icon.
His objection was to the production of an icon as an end in itself. Among those present, Will Alsop, Peter Cook, Ian Ritchie, Amanda Levete, David Marks and Julia Barfield and Farshid Moussavi have all been responsible for the sort of buildings and structure GM was describing. 'His attitude is one I have been fighting for 40 years, ' muttered Cook. 'I always suspected that was what he [GM] thought and now I know, ' said Alsop as he headed for a cigarette break. He probably didn't know that Morrison likes Alsop's icon building for Goldsmith's College. The discussion deserves to run.