Spas or spies?
Off to Cheltenham, where the chief talking point is the new GCHQ building by Gensler, now nearing completion to general acclaim - except for those who wonder how you extend a doughnut. There is also talk that, in view of the world situation, the existing premises might continue to be occupied, upsetting the council which needs the land for housing. Oh well. Happily, none of this disturbed the pleasant ceremony in the town hall last Friday, when Cheltenham Civic Society presented its annual awards.
Architect recipients included Dyer Associates, Falconer Partnership, Beswick Partnership, Milne Hogg, and North West Design Associates. Adrian Hopkins of John Lewis Partnership received an award for the town's Jubilee Bridge, and can count himself unlucky not to have won one for the large but elegant Waitrose store and petrol station next to the bridge. This must be worth re-entering next year in hope of a more catholic jury. A small group visiting the shortlisted scheme on the morning were accosted by student war protesters. They didn't impress the mayor, Ken Buckland. 'I know more about this than you do. I have met Saddam, ' he declared ominously.
William Kent, Voysey and, of course, Wren. This is a great way to help the institute's initiative to bring architecture to the public.
For details call Georgina Brown on 0870 060 5504.