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Listing of Barbican leaves facelift architect 'unfazed'

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Allford Hall Monaghan Morris has welcomed the listing of the Barbican Estate in spite of the fact the practice is about to embark on a major new redevelopment of the arts centre.

Arts minister Tessa Jowell last week awarded Grade II-listed status to the mega-structure for 'its scale, its plan, its cohesion and the ambition of the project'. But AHMM partner Paul Monaghan was unfazed by the move.

'We were aware when we got the job that listing was pretty imminent and we've been dealing with all the relevant bodies, ' he said. 'Most of our scheme is about restoring and bringing back the power of the building.We really like it.'

The practice, which has yet to receive a budget for the work, hopes to present preliminary drawings to Barbican managers during November.

Designed by Chamberlin, Powell & Bon in the 1960s and completed in 1982, the Barbican occupies a 14ha former bomb site. Its three 125m-high towers are a significant presence on the London skyline. The complex was listed on the recommendation of English Heritage.

In spite of much opposition from the public, architecture writer Nikolaus Pevsner admired the Barbican complex and wrote approvingly of 'wild and willful' features topping the towers, the 'thrillingly vertiginous' lake crossing and 'ingenious' use of space. He did admit, however, that 'none of this is for the faint-hearted'.

Caruso St John Architects is currently working on a £6 million acoustic canopy for Barbican Hall, to be unveiled later this month. The canopy consists of 35 acid-etched stainless steel 'reflectors' designed to distribute sound more evenly around the auditorium.

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