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Barry recalled

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ASTRAGAL

Other Hopkins connections came to mind during the annual dinner in honour of Sir Charles Barry at the Reform Club.The practice is, of course, designing the extension to the Manchester City Art Gallery (looks impressive so far), as well as responding to the Great Man with Portcullis House. Guests included Bernard Hunt, Gerald Levin, Liam O'Connor and Paul Warner.

Architectural lustre was added by Diane Yakeley and Nancy Cogswell. Guest speaker Jeremy Melvin was informative about the role of patronage and competitions in Sir Charles' professional career, noting that his generation of architects pre-dated the full emergence of scale fees, and that, while comfortable, he did not fall into the category of the really rich Victorian professionals. Sitting in the Reform (arguably Sir Charles' masterpiece), it was distressing to imagine what 'value engineers' would have made of the building (fewer mirrors, lower ceilings? ), or what it would have looked like had it been procured by a PFI process (cheaper and nastier).The trouble with the process boys is their obsessional refusal to assess the finished article.What is the point of a perfect delivery system if the product is no good?

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