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Hopkins: 'Maggie's Centre should be located elsewhere'

Michael Hopkins has weighed in against Steven Holl’s proposed Maggie’s Centre at St Barts after writing an official letter to planners

The architect, who has already won planning for an alternative masterplan scheme for the site, insisted there were better options for the cancer care centre elsewhere within the hospital’s grounds.

The Hopkins scheme includes the relocation of the Maggie’s Centre further away from the Grade I-listed Great Hall - a landmark which The Friends of St Barts is campaigning to save.

Steven Holl’s scheme has not yet been granted planning and is facing growing opposition with the head of the objectors Marcus Setchell, the former surgeon-gynaecologist to the Queen coming to blows with Maggie’s chief Laura Lee in the press last week (see below).

In his letter, which was sent to the chief planning inspector at the City of London, Hopkins said the Maggie’s plans would prevent improvements to the 1738 Great Hall as the proposed centre would be built on the site required for a lift, cloakroom and escape stair.

Hopkins said: ‘There is a once in lifetime opportunity to free the North Wing [of St Barts] from its appendages and restore its setting with the East and West Wings as Gibbs designed it and it was originally built.’

He said the Maggie’s proposal prevents this from being able to happen, and suggested the cancer care centre be located elsewhere.

‘There are alternative options for a single two-storey Maggie’s Centre closer in spirit, function and scale to the Maggie’s already built elsewhere, available within the context of Barts Heritage setting,’ he said.

In response to Hopkins’ letter Maggie’s chief executive Laura Lee said: ‘Our plans for a Maggie’s Centre at St Bartholomew’s have been developed with the Barts Health NHS Trust over several years including a series of feasibility checks to find the best possible location. The site, chosen by Barts Health NHS Trust, is the only one that works, being opposite the cancer wards and with easy access to the main road. The Trust has said that the alternative location proposed by the Friends is unsuitable, would have an adverse impact on patient care and the safe operation of the hospital and would require a significant reduction in the number of people our Centre could support.  

‘Our plans will in no way jeopardise the future of the Great Hall and have been produced alongside the Barts Health NHS Trust’s plans for the North Wing, with consultation from English Heritage. Both buildings can exist harmoniously together.

‘We are working with dedicated cancer specialists day-in, day-out to bring cancer support of the highest quality to Barts and anticipate that our new Centre, built in the only suitable location, would receive up to 20,000 visits per year.’

Previous story (AJ 22.05.14)

Row over Holl’s St Barts Maggie’s gets personal

Maggie’s chief executive Laura Lee has personally criticised a key protester battling against the Steven Holl-designed Maggie’s Centre at St Barts hospital

Yesterday (20 May) cancer charity figurehead Laura Lee hit out at campaigners attempting to block Holl’s proposed Maggie’s Centre in Smithfield, London which they claim is not in-keeping with the neighbouring, Grade I-listed Great Hall.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, Lee singled out Marcus Setchell, the former surgeon-gynaecologist to the Queen who is leading the protests, saying his arguments against the scheme were ‘vacuous’ and that the Great Hall would not be jeopardised by the Maggie’s proposals.

Lee, who won the AJ100 Contribution to the Profession award in 2010, insisted Holl’s scheme had the support of cancer doctors and patients and added: ‘Marcus Setchell is not speaking from a position of authority within the hospital… He has not looked after someone with cancer in his entire career.’

‘[This] is an obstetrician talking.’

In response Setchell, who represents The Friends of Barts and who has been working with Hopkins Architects on an alternative masterplan proposal, said: ‘I’m disappointed by the personal attacks levelled against me by Laura Lee.

‘The claim that I have never looked after someone with cancer is incorrect. Throughout my 44 years as an obstetrician and gynaecologist I treated and cared for countless cancer patients until I retired.

‘I know all too well the devastating impact cancer can have, not only on patients, but also on their families and friends, and the benefit they can derive from supportive care from organisations like Maggie’s.’

He added: ‘It’s disheartening to see the debate about the two proposals reduced to an either/or decision. Under our plans, Barts could have both a Great Hall that is no longer a burden on the NHS and a Maggie’s Centre with its helpful counselling services, in an attractive garden setting at a lesser cost.

‘We have always hoped that Maggie’s would be able to work with the Friends of Barts in order to arrive at a satisfactory outcome for all.’

Among those to have thrown their weight behind the campaign against the Maggie’s Centre are Edward Fox, David Starkey, Phyllida Law, Greg Wise and Eileen Atkins.

Despite the uproar, which has attracted widespread media attention, Maggie’s confirmed it remained committed to the Steven Holl-designed centre on the site, and re-affirmed that the cancer charity ‘would not seek a development at the expense of other valued buildings’.

Postscript: response from Laura Lee

‘I intended no criticism of Marcus Setchell and would never seek to diminish his distinguished career. I was anxious to emphasise that our plans for a Maggie’s Centre at St Bartholomew’s, produced alongside the Barts Health NHS Trust’s plans for the North Wing, do not jeopardise the future of the Great Hall. We have put forward a plan by a world renowned architect that allows old and modern buildings to exist together in harmony.

‘The site, chosen by Barts Health NHS Trust, is the only one that works, being opposite the cancer wards and with easy access to the main road. Suggested alternative sites put forward by the Friends present difficulties such as obstruction of light and would require a significant reduction in the number of people our centre supports.  

‘We are working with wonderful, dedicated cancer specialists day in day out to bring cancer support of the highest quality to Barts, with 5,500 new cancer diagnoses a year at Barts, we are anxious to have this Maggie’s Centre open to patients as soon as possible.’

Previous story (AJ 16.05.13)

Heat turns up on Holl’s St Barts scheme as SAVE backs rival plans

SAVE Britain’s Heritage has waded into the row over Stephen Holl’s controversial plans for a Maggie’s Centre at St Barts Hospital by backing rival plans

The conservation body told the AJ it supported campaigners battling against the ‘translucent’ modern design of Holl’s proposed cancer care centre in Smithfield, London which they claim is not in-keeping with the neighbouring, grade I*-listed Great Hall.

Last month the group, Save Barts Great Hall Campaign led by retired royal gynaecologist Marcus Setchell, won permission for a ‘maverick’ scheme by Hopkins which would see the Maggie’s centre built on ‘an alternative site within the hospital grounds’.

This proposal has now been given the support of SAVE. A spokesman for the organisation said that any new development at St Bart would have to be ‘acutely sensitive’ to the 1738 Great Hall, describing the building as ‘an awe-inspiring room of great beauty and history’.

She said: ‘We applaud the initiative from Save St Barts Great Hall whose plans for the restoration and increased access to the Great Hall have been approved by the City of London planning committee. If there is a site that is more suitable for the Maggie Centre within St Barts, that will not jeopardise the future restoration of the Great Hall, then surely that is the best way forward.’ 

Among those to have thrown their weight behind the campaign are Edward Fox, David Starkey, Phyllida Law, Greg Wise, and Eileen Atkins.

Despite the uproar, which has attracted widespread media attention, Maggie’s confirmed it remained committed to the Stephen Holl-designed centre on the site and re-affirmed that the cancer charity ‘would not seek a development at the expense of other valued buildings’.

Maggie’s chief executive, Laura Lee told the BBC: ‘We have worked very hard with the [Barts Health NHS] Trust, the planning committee and English Heritage to ensure the Great Hall is safe and secure. Maggie’s has been working will all of those groups [to make sure] it in no way jeopardises the future of the Great Hall and whatever may happen to it in the future.’

However the charity must first win planning approval for its scheme which has been drawn up in collaboration with heritage specialists Donald Insall. The original proposals were withdrawn from planning ‘for further consideration’ a year ago and have only recently been resubmitted.

Holl’s revised scheme is expected to go before City of London’s planning committee later this summer.

Previous story (AJ 29.04.14)

Hopkins wins planning for rival to St Barts Maggie’s

Hopkins has won planning for a rival masterplan for St Barts Hospital which could scupper Stephen Holl’s plans for a Maggie’s Centre on the site

The alternative proposal, which suggests building the cancer care centre on a different site, is being backed by a campaign group fighting to save an historic part of the hospital in Smithfields, central London.

The group, led by retired royal gynaecologist Marcus Setchell, asked Hopkins to draw up the rival scheme in protest against Holl’s plans which, it claims, threatens the hospital’s Grade I*-listed Great Hall.

However Maggie’s confirmed that, despite today’s planning victory (29 April), its remains committed to the Stephen Holl-designed centre on the same site.

Holl’s resubmitted plans for the cancer care centre last week, nearly a year after it was withdrawn from planning ‘for further consideration’.

In line with UK planning law, both planning submissions could receive approval. The decision on which scheme will proceed rests with the owner of the land, Barts Health NHS Trust, who are understood to be backing the original Maggie’s scheme.

Barts Health NHS Trust believes it is possible to combine the existing plans for the Maggie’s Centre with the renovation of the Great Hall. But the campaigners disagree and have suggested the Maggie’s Centre should be built elsewhere.

The plans propose the demolition of two nearby post-war buildings to create a series of gardens, where the new two-storey Maggie’s building could be relocated.

Maggie’s chief executive, Laura Lee, said: ‘The Trust chose the site that would make our centre most effective, we then appointed Steven Holl as an architect with empathy for historic buildings.

‘We recognise our responsibility to create a building that respects the heritage of the site and are committed to our plans which we believe work alongside those of leading conservation architect Donald Insall Associates to ensure the future of the Great Hall.’

A spokesperson for Barts Health NHS Trust, added: ‘While acknowledging the decision of the City of London Planning and Transportation Committee, we continue to believe that the interests of cancer patients and their families is best served by the planning application that has been submitted by the Maggie’s charity, which we wholeheartedly support. It will provide a much needed support facility for our cancer patients and their families, carers and friends, strengthening the position of St Bartholomew’s Hospital as a world class cancer centre.

‘We look forward to discussing these plans with the Committee at the appropriate time, and working with The Friends on a plan we believe is best for our cancer patients and their families and best for the long term future of the North Wing.’

David Selby, senior partner at Hopkins, said: ‘We are enormously pleased that the proposal has received this endorsement from the City of London and heritage bodies. We sincerely hope it paves the way for establishing James Gibbs’ North Wing as the first heritage building in what could become a World Heritage Site at St Bartholomew’s Hospital with a historical focus on healthcare knowledge and learning in both the UK and throughout the world.’

A decision on Maggie’s Stephen Holl-designed scheme is expected in the summer.

Previous story (AJ 14.04.14)

Hopkins tables rival to Steven Holl’s Maggie’s Centre

A group of campaigners fighting to save a historic part of St Barts Hospital in London has tabled plans by Hopkins in the hope of scuppering Stephen Holl’s existing proposal for a new Maggie’s Centre on the site

The group of campaigners led by retired royal gynaecologist Marcus Setchell, has weighed in arguing that Holl’s plans threaten the hospital’s Grade I*-listed Great Hall.

Holl’s designs for the Maggie’s Centre were resubmitted for planning last week, after it was withdrawn from planning for further consideration back in June last year.

Holl’s scheme for the centre at the Smithfield hospital will replace an existing 1960s block once used as offices, which sits adjacent to the historic wing.

A spokeswoman for Maggie’s said it was the first time the organisation had faced such a planning battle.

She added: ‘We have the backing of the hospital trust and have been working with conservation architect, Donald Insall Associates to ensure the historic architecture of the building is maintained’.

If both planning applications win approval, the site’s landlord Barts Health NHS Trust, will be faced with making the final call on the plans.  

The rival proposals drawn up by Hopkins suggest the Maggie’s Centre should be built elsewhere. The plans propose the demolition of two nearby post-war buildings to create a series of gardens, where the new two-storey Maggie’s building could be relocated.

But a spokesperson from Barts Health NHS Trust, which is backing the Holl-designed scheme, said the alternative location proposed by Hopkins would not be suitable.

They said: ‘The alternative location for the Maggie’s Centre proposed by the Friends of the North Wing is unsuitable and would have a significant adverse impact on patient care and the safe operation of the hospital.   

‘Alongside providing excellent cancer facilities, the Trust is committed to the heritage of the Barts site and believes that it is possible to combine the existing plans for a Maggie’s Centre with the renovation of the North Wing.’

In a statement Setchell, said: ‘For many years the North Wing has received barely adequate maintenance, and continues to be a burden to an already over-pressed National Health Service. Without change in management and funding the glory will fade away, and the Grade I listed North Wing become a building-at-risk.’

‘The Hopkins architectural plans will provide major improvements:  access, lifts, fire safety, cloakrooms, toilets, catering facilities, safer storage and exhibition of archives, art and artifacts, and restoration of the perfect neo-Palladian symmetry of Gibbs’s masterpiece are all included. The heritage site will also embrace the Gatehouse, Barts the Less church and the Victorian Hardwick buildings.’

Hopkins Architects declined to comment.

Previous story (AJ 4.6.13)

Steven Holl’s Maggie’s Centre rejected

The City of London’s planning committee has thrown out Steven Holl Architects’ proposals a new Maggie’s cancer care centre at Barts and the London NHS Trust

Earlier today (4 June) the committee voted 11 to 8 against the American star’s three-storey scheme in Smithfield and, according to an authority spokesman, raised concerns about the proposed glass facade.

The members were also worried about a general lack of information about the project which had been recommended for approval by officers.

Holl’s scheme for Maggie’s Barts in Smithfield would have replaced an existing 1960s block which was once used as offices.

Laura Lee, chief executive of Maggie’s, said: ‘We are obviously disappointed by the decision of the City of London Planning Committee but will now work to address the issues raised and resolve them quickly. Bringing our programme of support to the  thousands of people with cancer in the East End of London remains a critical priority and we will work hard to ensure that Maggie’s Barts becomes a reality as soon as possible.’

Steven Holl's Maggie's centre scheme will replace an empty 1960s office building at Barts

Steven Holl’s Maggie’s centre scheme will replace an empty 1960s office building at Barts

Previous story (AJ 28.06.2012)

New images of Steven Holl’s Maggie’s Centres unveiled

Cancer care charity Maggie’s Centres has released new visuals of Steven Holl Architects’ proposals for a new centre at Barts and the London NHS Trust

Earlier this month the AJ revealed that the American star and Stirling Prize-winning practice Foster + Partners had become the latest big name architects commissioned by the organisation. While Holl is working in central London, Norman Foster is set to mastermind a facility at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, less than two miles away from where he was brought up in Levenshulme.

Holl’s scheme for Maggie’s Barts in Smithfield will replace an existing 1960s block which was once used as offices.

Describing his proposal with its bamboo interior, Steven Holl said:’We are inspired by the deep history of the area, and particularly the nearby St Bartholomew the Great church which has been in continuous use with marvellous music since 1143.

Our proposal is like a vessel within a vessel within a vessel

‘Our proposal is like a vessel within a vessel within a vessel. In the spirit of music, architecture can be a vessel of transcendence.’  

Steven Holl is masterminding a new Maggie's centre at the Barts and the London NHS Trust, in Smithfield in the City of London

Steven Holl is masterminding a new Maggie’s centre at the Barts and the London NHS Trust, in Smithfield in the City of London

Previous story (AJ 07.07.2012)

More stars for Maggie’s: Foster eyed up for Manchester and Holl for London

Cancer care charity Maggie’s Centres has lined up Stirling Prize-winner Foster + Partners and American Steven Holl Architects to design two new centres

The duo join a glittering roll call of the world’s leading architects, including Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Frank Gehry, to be commissioned by the charity, which Maggie Keswick Jencks set up before her death from cancer in 1995.

AIA Gold Medallist Steven Holl is to mastermind a centre at the Barts and the London NHS Trust, in Smithfield in the City of London. The scheme will replace an empty 1960s office building (sketch pictured).

The project will be Holl’s second in the UK; his practice is also designing the £50 million Glasgow School of Art. Once complete, his will also be the second Maggie’s Centre in the capital, along with the Hammersmith centre by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, which scooped the Stirling Prize in 2009.

Meanwhile, Norman Foster is set to design a centre at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, less than two miles away from where he was brought up in Levenshulme.

A spokesman for Foster + Partners said: ‘We are in discussions with Maggie’s about working on a new centre.’

It is understood that the scheme has been earmarked for a plot originally intended for a controversial multi-storey car park behind Wilson Mason and Partners’ proposed £20 million Manchester Cancer Research Centre at the hospital (see AJ 09.05.2011).

Local resident and co-founder of the Manchester Modernist Society, Eddy Rhead said: ‘The idea of approaching Foster to design a Maggie’s Centre at the Christie seems like the perfect fit. Foster grew up just down the road, studied in Manchester and, so far, has never built anything of any significance in his home city.

‘Also, as neighbour of the hospital, I welcome this smaller scale type of building, which is contrary to much of Christie’s recent development programme.’

Among the other big name architects also working on Maggie’s Centres are; Snøhetta, which has submitted plans for a new £3 million Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary; Wilkinson Eyre, whose Oxford centre starts on site this summer; and Benedetta Tagliabue of Spanish practice EMBT, who is designing the new Barcelona facility.

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