London's famous Royal Hospital Chelsea has parachuted in ³ber-Classicist Quinlan Terry to design the facade of its new infirmary building, to counter the threat of rejection from planners.
The hospital's authorities have relegated the firm they originally employed for the entire scheme, Steffian Bradley Architects (SBA), to designing just the interiors, fearing the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea would throw out the modern proposals.
The £20 million building, which is expected to be submitted for planning imminently, will sit within the complex, the home of London's Chelsea Pensioners, adjacent to buildings by Christopher Wren and John Soane.
And local planners warned the hospital's bosses about the idea of a modern design sitting alongside some of the most historic Grade I-listed buildings in the capital.
The hospital's secretary, Michael Legge, said that he had been left with little choice but to go for the Classical option.
'We were having some trouble with the exterior, ' he told the AJ. 'We were very close to a submission and it was during a conversation with planners that it became clear that they had reservations about the proposals.
'Reading between the lines, it became clear that we needed to get an architect of national significance for this project, so we asked Quinlan to come in.
'When we relayed this fact to the royal borough's planners, it was clear that they were very pleased and they told us that it was a good idea, ' Legge added.
But SBA's Seb Greenall said he was not shocked by the decision. 'We were working on it on our own but we are now working with Quinlan, ' he said. 'That's all there is to it.' If the project now wins the green light, it will see the demolition of the existing 1960s infirmary and its replacement with a modern hospital for the resident retired soldiers.
Terry said that he was pleased to be helping out the hospital. 'At first they had just employed this American firm, SBA, ' he said. 'I don't know why.
The kind of things they do are a little different to the kind of buildings that you might want in with Wren and Soane.'