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Listing battle for threatened Farrell Pomo block

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Ministers are considering whether to spot-list a 1987 Postmodern office by Terry Farrell in the City of London

The practice has enlisted the support of a number of architects, design experts and the Twentieth Century Society to fight proposed changes to the ‘monumental doorways’ on the block at 69 Leadenhall Street, which Farrell classes as ‘one of the best buildings we designed in the 1980s’.

Plans drawn up by de Metz Forbes Knight Architects to convert the ground and lower ground floors from offices and shops to a restaurant were approved in February. However, the proposed alterations and the planning permission were only discovered after staff at Farrell’s practice spied scaffolding surrounding the building.

According to the planning documents, the scheme would replace ‘the existing, awkward architectural treatment, and enhance the appearance of the elevation’.

The project will also see a glazed infill between the two columns of the existing open corner rotunda, with the space incorporated into a restaurant.

De Metz Forbes Knight Architects told the AJ that it had not been involved in the project for some time. Minor amendments drawn up by Pure Design Group to the original permission were granted in October.

In a statement, Farrell said: ‘I am passionately convinced that the present proposals could sabotage the essential nature of this building’s concept and character.

‘The monumental doorways are exemplars of the Postmodern expression of the building, and they were a critical part of the design concept. 

‘The proposed alterations are purely stylistic and, as Paul Finch has said, the proposed changes are a needless disruption to the integrity of the existing building and might properly be described as architecturally illiterate.

‘This building predates No1 Poultry. It is very well resolved in my view and one of the best buildings we designed in the 1980s.’

Adam Nathaniel Furman, architecture and research assistant at Farrells, told the AJ that the case demonstrated a new danger to Postmodern buildings.

He said: ‘We lost the TVAM building in Camden and Ian Pollard’s Homebase in Warwick Road without anyone batting an eyelid.

‘The building cycle means that many of these structures have now yielded and new owners are coming in with new plans for them.

‘A lot of them were built in the 1980s Big Bang in places where development pressures are the highest. But there are not many left of the highest quality and we need to protect them.’

In a letter of support, Ordinary Architecture founder Charles Holland said: ‘Buildings from this period are only just beginning to be appreciated again after a period of unfashionability.

‘Like Brutalism before it, Postmodernism will come to be seen as an important movement in architectural history and the shortsighted destruction of the best buildings from the period will be regarded as philistine short-termism.

‘It is important therefore to recognise the qualities of these buildings at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.’

Heritage watchdog Historic England has already submitted a report to the Department of Culture Media and Sport giving its advice on whether the building should be listed.

A spokeswoman for the department said: ‘The government is currently considering advice from Historic England on the request to list 69 Leadenhall and will make a decision in due course.’

Historic England would not reveal whether or not it was recommending listing for the building.

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