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a life in architecture karl sabbagh

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Television producer and writer Karl Sabbagh has come to know several buildings through film making, the most recent being Tate Modern. A few years ago, Monticello featured in a documentary he made about Thomas Jefferson. 'It's an obvious architectural icon, but I like it because it is a personal house.

There were all sorts of things that Jefferson put in that happened to fit his idiosyncrasies: little unexpected corners, odd rotating shelves in strange places, lots of irregularities.' Sabbagh also enjoys the fact that Jefferson pinched the design for the dome and roof at Monticello from Chiswick House, which is near where he lives.

The second building he likes 'as a consumer' is the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, once an Ottoman Palace. 'It is one of the nicest hotels in the world: wood finishes and solid doors that click shut behind you and marble floors; the public spaces still have this Turkish architecture and the deep curved windows.'

His third choice is the Citizens Advice Bureau in Chessington, in Surrey, which was designed by Gabriele Bramante and filmed by Sabbagh during its construction (pictured above).

'I have never seen a client fall out with an architect so badly and be so vindictive, ' says Sabbagh.

'But I have chosen it because I think it shows the value of sometimes letting an architect have her head in spite of the battles that occur. If you happen to see the building across that suburban car park, especially at night, it suddenly strikes you through its simplicity and lightness - a beautiful object.'

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