I have been prompted to write to you by the damning judgement of American architects that the Dome is 'the world's ugliest building' (AJ 18.7.02). This is wholly unfair to the Dome itself, to Michael Davies the architect, to Buro Happold the engineer, and to Lord Rogers himself.
There has been widespread agreement that the only thing of value to come out of the fiasco at Greenwich was the actual Dome; most would agree with the Independent and George Ferguson of the RIBA on its undoubted elegance. You will now probably want to take issue over this poll in the near future.
However, when you look at their actual criticisms, it is clear that it is not the Dome itself they dislike, but the disastrous waste of money spent on a building which had no clear purpose. To justify its vast cost, Greenwich should have been given some lasting meaning. The Dome should surely have expressed in some way our deepest aspirations for the future in the new millennium, and not just for Britain but for all mankind.
That would have given the architect a brief which might have inspired them to create a truly great building. Without it they did their best, but ultimately the Dome does not satisfy. It is too pedestrian - hugging low to the ground when instead it should have been an exhilarating building reaching up to the stars, an attempt to express our optimistic hopes and aspirations in what might otherwise turn into a very depressing future. It is indeed elegant, but it means nothing at all, and it does not move us.
Michael Quinn, Reading