ROGERS' ACHIEVEMENT HAS BEEN TO DESIGN A PRACTICE CAPABLE OF EVOLVING
The announcement that Richard Rogers Partnership (RRP) is to change its name ( ajplus 16.10.06) could not be better timed.
With Madrid's Barajas Airport, the newly anointed Stirling Prize winner, firmly in the limelight (see pages 12-13), the show of powersharing, or more accurately credit-sharing, can only be interpreted as a statement of confidence from a practice at the height of its powers.
Barajas marks the culmination of a lifetime of architectural enquiry. As a building type, the airport brings a certain intellectual credence to some of RRP's more whimsical conceits. The 'production line' aggregation of identical parts - little more than a polemical game when the project is too small for repetition to yield significant economies of scale - represents the height of rational efficiency when employed at such a mega scale. The colour coding which Rogers enjoys so much can seem a little wilful on a building of any conventional size, but makes perfect sense on a project where an essentially uniform structure is rolled out over such a vast tract of land. Similarly, the transparency which is deemed to equate with Rogers' egalitarian agenda seems positively perverse at, say, the Welsh Assembly, where the views to three sides would be best blanked out, but makes perfect sense when it reveals the arid beauty of the Spanish countryside punctuated by the high drama of aeroplanes coming in to land.
It is, perhaps, the quintessential Rogers building. The precise issue of authorship is neither here nor there. Rogers' personal achievement has been to design a practice which is capable of evolving and perfecting his signature oeuvre; where staff turnover is famously low, talent is allowed to ourish, and credit is given where credit is due. The message to his fellow superstars is that the secret of successful succession is to keep your lieutenants loyal and to keep them by your side.