Kennel Capers by 'Mayo'
Phil Vincent of Liverpool won last week's champagne, identifying an Irish wolfhound occupying Michael Scott's Irish pavilion at the New York World Fair in 1938. This week's clue: Wild about Harry is a gut reaction. Answers on a postcard (preferably doggy) by Monday am to aj Astragal, 151 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4GB. Or in emergency fax 0171 505 6701.
Back to the future
Jonathan Glancey's lavish new book covering the history of twentieth- century architecture has a useful feature to orientate readers who may be unfamiliar with the subject. Its double-page contents spread is illustrated with one picture as an emblem for each chapter. Mackintosh's school of art defines the essence of Arts and Crafts, which makes perfect sense; Gaudi's Casa Battlo stands for organic, which makes a welcome relief from Frank Lloyd Wright; Foster's communication tower outside Barcelona is roboticism personified; John Russell Pope's National Gallery of Art in Washington encapsulates Classicism. But then . . . cities are left to the tender mercies of Albert Speer, Pawson Silvestrin's Neuendorf House represents Modernism, while Post-Modernism finds its apogee in Co-op Himmelb(l)au's rooftop home for a lawyer. My favourite image relates to the future - Peter Cook's Plug In City! What has been shall be!
Oz-trial defendant Felix Dennis, the hundredth richest person in the country, is showing his shrewdness by having a mausoleum designed long before it might be needed. Or at least he lent his imprimatur to a teaching programme for such a project, run by Don Gray at Central St Martin's arts and design course. As the opening of its exhibition last Thursday approached, Felix let it be known he would like champagne served. 'Yes, Felix,' replied Gray, 'we'll have some champagne, some red wine, some white wine . . . ' 'I told you, Don,' riposted Dennis, 'champagne'. And so it came to pass. Not something the school's founder, that dreary puritan W R Lethaby, would have approved of, I fear.
On with the show
The Lord Mayor's Show in the City of London has been going for eight centuries. It attracts 500,000 people who lined the streets, and millions of tv viewers at home and abroad. Astragal salutes the organisational skills of the Pageantmaster, one of the country's most historic jobs, who happens to be an architect: take a bow, Dominic Reid. One regret is the low-level involvement of the architectural profession in the event. Reid is hoping to get a piece of radical design on to such a stand next year - and is talking to Will Alsop about getting involved.
Backing Mr Modulor
Having embraced New Labour with such alacrity, it was inevitable that London's Evening Standard would come to like New Architecture. A spread in a recent property supplement noted Atelier 5's St Bernard's scheme in Croydon, whose price 'seems a bargain for buildings that can trace their design influence back to the great Swiss architect Le Corbusier'. Since Atelier 5's members were themselves Swiss this may not be so surprising.
Big trouble last week at the 'media briefing' staged by Westminster City Council to explain why it is still persisting with the now infamous Pimlico School pfi redevelopment, championed by the Right Honourable Jack Straw mp. Initially the council had hoped to stage the event in the school itself, but got cold feet at the last minute when they realised that parents and governors had been tipped off by a journalist and were planning to be out in force. In the event they turned up at the new venue, Westminster City Hall, but were told by an array of pr girls that Committee Room 7 was 'too small' for them to be let in. In the end they were let in to observe - while over at Pimlico the kids were out on strike over the matter. Education, education, education.
On their metal
Students of Peter Blundell Jones at Sheffield University have been unravelling the extraordinarily rich fabric of that city, much of it owned by Britain's premier nobleman, the Duke of Norfolk (aj 22.10.98). It also seems - and not illogically - that Sheffield might have had the earliest steel-framed buildings some time before Norman Shaw's Piccadilly Hotel. And it certainly had some fine department stores. One of them, Walsh's, used to entice young Irish girls over to Sheffield with the promise to their mothers that they would be kept in single-sex dormitories and packed off to Mass on Sundays. How like the noblest department store chief of our time, Mohamed Al-Fayed - at least the single-sex dormitories.
Way to go
APeabody Trust debate on the future of social housing, held as part of Architecture Week, revealed some interesting incidental information: for instance, that residents in Lifschutz Davidson's Coin Street housing have halved their bills for lighting common areas through use of long-life bulbs. Astragal's favourite prediction came from Avanti's John Allan - that the growth of on-street parking would require most of London's streets to be one-way in the foreseeable future. You read it here first. The question of what to do about 'problem' families was addressed by a senior housing official over drinks afterwards.: 'Ensure certainty of eviction.'
Novel trends at the aa, as ever. Catering staff have taken to dressing in black - making it almost impossible to distinguish them from teachers and students, and thus appropriately egalitarian. But there is bad news too. Just wanting a simple breakfast in the bar - starting with a Capstan Full Strength or two and a strong coffee - Astragal now finds that muesli and jam make up the bill of fare. What has happened to the cold grouse and claret?