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Big build-up

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There was an unprecedented build-up to Architecture Week, with a plethora of lectures and other events testimony to the health of the UK architectural sector, including Ian Ritchie's Bossom Lecture at the Royal Society of Arts, a deeply thought-through exploration of architectural ideas.The previous evening, Renzo Piano gave a charming performance at the Royal Academy annual architecture lecture, after a glowing introduction from Lord Rogers, who described Renzo's architecture as a 'marriage of the organic and the Platonic'. He said English Heritage had failed to recognise the qualities of his 'Shard' building and suggested that, when it was built, EH would try to freeze it and its surroundings, 'the last thing a living building needs'. He recalled their competition success with the Pompidou Centre as a tiny new practice ('a tremendously difficult jump') and paid tribute to one of the judging panel charged with getting the building through: 'We asked him what his qualification was for doing this; he told us he had overseen France's withdrawal from Vietnam.'

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