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CABE review committee pans practices over latest designs

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Gensler, Chapman Taylor Partners and Haskoll & Company each came under fire from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) this week when its design review committee publicly attacked the practices' latest designs.

At a meeting where only one scheme from the six that were studied received CABE's u n e qu i vo c a l supp o r t , t h e panel of architects and experts said that Gensler's design for a 75,000m 2office building on Westminster Bridge roundabout (AJ 4.5.00) has failed to achieve 'the highest architectural quality' and that important aspects of the scheme failed. The panel also called for a masterplan for the site, which neighbours County Hall, before the development goes ahead.

'The proposed form of the building is unlikely to make sense in relation to future development between York Road and Waterloo station, ' the report said. 'Since much of the area seems likely to be redeveloped fairly soon we believe there should be a masterplan showing how the building will relate to such redevelopment.'

It also attacked the way part of the scheme bridges the road as well as the strong rotunda shape of one of the blocks. The criticisms follow earlier complaints by the Twentieth Century Society which said that the building would compromise the setting of the Grade II-listed County Hall.

Elsewhere, Chapman Taylor's design for Coppergate, a mixed-use retail and residential scheme in York, was also panned. The committee called for the local authority to reject its planning application and demanded that other architects be drafted in to design some of the buildings.

'We do not think the architecture which is on offer is good enough for a major city such as York and we do not think it should be given detailed planning permission, ' the report said.

Haskoll was told to return with a more developed outline proposal for a extension to the Westgate shopping centre in Oxford after the committee warned that the new building gave the impression of a citadel and failed to use 'an architectural language appropriate to such a large piece of the city.'

The 182m Kohn Pedersen Fox tower for Heron Property in the City of London received qualified support with the committee asking for greater consideration of pedestrians around the building.

After three viewings, the committee decided to give its full support to the Pallant House gallery in Chichester, designed by Long and Kentish with Colin St John Wilson.

The committee includes architects Sunand Prasad, Robert Adam, Piers Gough and Graham Morrison and acts as a consultative body to planning authorities.

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