Palumbo pays tribute to Thatcher: ‘She was well aware of the power of the arts’
Property tycoon Peter Palumbo has praised Margaret Thatcher’s ‘intense’ interest in construction and support for art and architecture
The developer behind James Stirling’s No 1 Poultry in the City of London commented the day after the former prime minister died aged 87 from a stroke.
He said the Thatcher had been ‘intensely interested in the construction industry, both from the point of view of the quality of building design and the jobs that would be created in the process. ‘
He added: ‘Contrary to public perception, I always found Thatcher to be supportive of the arts and knowledgeable about their general health and condition.
‘Whilst they may not have been at the forefront of her attention, she was prepared to listen carefully to any suggestions that might be made to enhance their vitality and impact; and the funds made available from government for that purpose demonstrate that proposition.’
Palumbo also described Thatcher’s role in the Canary Wharf regeneration as a ‘major initiative to make the City of London the pre-eminent focus of economic regeneration and dynamic development, both at home and abroad.’
Palumbo abandoned plans for a Mies van der Rohe-designed skyscraper at Mansion House Square in 1985, appointing James Stirling to design a postmodern alternative which completed in 1997.
Thatcher appointed Palumbo chair of the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1988 and made him a life peer in 1991.
Commenting on the late prime minister, the developer went on to say: ‘Above all, Thatcher was only too well aware of the power of communication of the arts; and the impact that the work of British artists in particular made on the sensibilities of those visiting these Islands.
‘She could be counted upon to support initiatives that represented Britain at its best; and to promote them, whether at home or abroad; and this applied, in particular, to Architecture, the first of the Arts.’
Buildings owned by the property tycoon include Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob house.