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No joke

astragal at the urban summit

New urbanism was not something close to the heart of that doyen of American, and in some senses world, architecture Philip Johnson, who died last week aged 98. For him architecture was object building, particularly if the object had been designed by himself. Though showered with honours in the US, his attempts to work in Britain were a failure.

As Deyan Sudjic recalled in The Observer, his only major London proposal involved a recreation of the Palace of Westminster on the Thames east of London Bridge. Louis Hellman famously demolished this idea with an AJ cartoon showing Johnson excreting his silly design on to the site. MPs were not amused either.

Johnson was a combination of Don Corleone and Noel Coward, to whom the tasteless witticism came easily. Asked about 9/11 three days after the event, he commented: 'Wasn't that great television?'

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