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Waterstone's has scored another black mark with the Twentieth Century Society one week after dismantling signage designed by Eric Gill for Joseph Emberton's Simpson's building in Piccadilly (aj 2.9.99).

Not content with doing that without listed-building consent and before the consulation period had elapsed, it has now painted over a series of bronze boxes lining the windows of the Grade II* frontage with black gloss paint. Emberton's idea had been to use the boxes to house neon lights to illuminate the building - in which Waterstone's is opening a store later this week - in different colours according to the seasons.

The Twentieth Century Society has now written in protest at the moves to the book store's chief, Tim Waterstone, pointing out the company's 'dismaying cultural indifference'.

The bookstore's property director, Shaw Warnock, has said in a letter to the society that the building had not been chosen for its architectural merit: 'It is a welcome bonus, but was far from a determining factor.'

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