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a life in architecture

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claire rayner

Journalist Claire Rayner, famous for her forthright opinions in print and on the air, has no doubt about the buildings she likes and dislikes. 'Pretty high on the list' of the former is William Van Alen's Chrysler Building in New York, the Art Deco landmark of 1928-30 that, for a few months, was the tallest building in the world. 'I love the quality of the decoration, the detailing of the interior, the lifts, the wall and ceiling decoration, 'she says, 'and, above all, the stunning effect of the spire.'

Rayner's second favourite is closer to home. 'I have an enormous affection for the indoor market place in Leeds.

Large, open, full of Victorian decoration that showed the huge self-confidence and municipal pride of its builders, and, most of all, a building of human dimensions where human things go on. There was an attempt to pull it down, and I do hope it has been preserved.' (It has. ) As for her dislikes: 'The immigration shed at Ellis Island, New York, and other similar establishments around the world.

I'm sure we've got them in Britain, but they are not publicly discussed and their addresses are not well known. But these dreadful, cold, miserable barracks where people are locked up, for no better reason than that they have ambitions to live in a different part of the planet to the one in which they were born, make me sick with shame at my own species.'

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