Think of an organisation which serially hires the best architects to extend its campus, puts design at the top of the agenda, and you'd probably think Vitra. How was it then that your coverage of Grimshaw's latest addition to Lords could have been so narrowly focused ('Grimshaw's opening stand', aj 20-27.8.98)? This is a unique example of architectural patronage and yet it is for an organisation for whose members the height of fashion is not Comme des garcons fatigues, but knotted hankies, egg and bacon ties, cavalry twill and gabardine; worst still, an organisation which excludes women.
Lords is a client story almost without parallel. No, the Stansfield-Smith story was not how he acquired the double-barrel, or whether he scored any fours before lunch, but how he and Peter Bell, two architects, have been on the Lord's premises committee since the late 1970s. Good architecture needs good clients. How else does an organisation, for whose property- minded members Ralph Judd is the acceptable face of modernism, consistently commission such leading-edge architecture when it comes to sport?
But the story has even more fascinating facets. How does the Marylebone Cricket Club make these buildings with such low utilisation pay? Why does the mcc drop its star architects and move on? Do the selectors have a masterplan? How come David Morley's had more repeat business than anyone else? Come on admit it: we do think Hopkins is better than Grimshaw, don't we?
This was a lost opportunity to get under the skin of a story we working architects could all learn from. Even the working detail, another coat- hanger staircase, was less interesting than how David Morley detailed the video screens. August may be the graveyard slot and Norman didn't crash land at Chek Lap Kok, but this one slipped through your fingers.