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a life in architecture norman adams

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To the question 'Do you have a favourite building?', Royal Academician Norman Adams has several answers. His first is the Arena Chapel at Padua, as he particularly admires the frescoes by Giotto. His second choice would be the Unter den Linden Museum at Colmar, Alsace - 'because of Grünewald's Isenheim Altarpiece, and it is a beautiful cloister'.

Then he adds: 'The Royal Festival Hall, because it's full of activity and very welcoming, and also because it is by the Thames.'

He also likes the Romanesque abbey church of St Madeleine at Vézelay (pictured), 'because it is so much a part of its little town, and the town itself has not been modernised much'. But there is more to come. Adams loves Durham Cathedral: 'It is wonderfully sited and looks marvellous from the train.'

Adams'wife Anna, also a painter, adds: 'Norman actually rather likes the Pompidou Centre in Paris. It's a good flexible gallery.

There are fine views of Paris from the outside escalator. And marvellous shows inside sometimes.'

What Adams dislikes is St Peter's in Rome. 'It's too large, an overstatement. Details can be good - the bronze door, for instance, and the Bernini colonnade, though not the gigantic Bernini cherubs inside.

But the whole thing dwarfs humanity.' Another dislike? He describes the leisure centre at Milton Keynes as 'a chamber of horrors'.

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