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a life in architecture jonsnow

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Journalist Jon Snow needed his favourite contemplative spot more than usual after the US presidential election fiasco. Snow loves I M Pei's East Wing extension to Washington's National Gallery for its sense of peace and perspective away from the hurly-burly politicking of Washington, where he has spent countless hours, first as a correspondent and latterly as Channel 4 News anchor.

'It's just the most beautiful enclosure of space, although it has precious little wall space for art, ' laughs Snow. 'It's a building I admire for its interior, although its exterior is very clever - Pei has not intruded on the French Classical plan of the mall, despite the East Wing being a very big adjunct to it.

It's rather like the Tate in St Ives - a gallery that is more wonderful for what it is than for what is in it.'

He also makes time to visit Winchester Cathedral when he can, another haven where he spent a happy childhood as a chorister. 'It's an architectural feast and a romantic, luscious place, with its awesome scale and beauty. All the more wondrous is that it's built on a marsh, mainly on logs cut from the New Forest.'

Snow remembers being taken into the roof as a child to look down on the perpendicular stonework.

The fact that Oliver Cromwell put a cannonball through the East Window also tickles Snow. 'They picked up every last shard of glass and put it all together again, but in a complete jumble, and it makes the most wonderful window.'

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