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Astragal: BoJo announces more vanity projects

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AJ cartoonist Louis Hellman predicts new PM Boris Johnson’s next grands projets

Doolan discount

AJ readers will remember how the £20,000 cheque for winning the RIBA Stirling Prize disappeared in 2013, meaning Witherford Watson Mann walked away without any cash for its justly lauded Astley Castle refurb. It was the first time since the prize for the UK’s best building was launched in 1996 that the victors had not come away with a windfall. 

The Scots, meanwhile, were still offering £25,000 for the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award. Backed by the Scottish government and the Doolan family, the RIAS regularly bragged that the award was the ‘richest prize’ in British architecture.

This undoubtedly remains true, given that the RIBA Stirling Prize still offers no cash. Yet the eagle-eyed will have spotted that the value of the Doolan Prize winner’s cheque has been slashed to £10,000. Bad news for Kengo Kuma, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Reiach and Hall et al, who are vying for the 2019 gong.

Perhaps they will take consolation that the money is, at least, going to support the greater architectural good.

A RIAS spokesperson said: ‘The reduction in prize money allows a greater proportion of the budget to be directed towards the promotion of the shortlist and winner, in order to widen its public impact.’

It’s all about the taking part.

Norman has (not) left the building

There was consternation last month when official documents from Companies House showed the termination of Norman Foster’s reign as director of Foster + Partners Group.

Did this signal the end of an era? Was Lord Foster leaving office to spend more time with his inflatable unicorn? Had the Gherkin designer quit in a fit of pique over the tanked Tulip?

Apparently not. From Foster + Partners Holdings comes news of the appointment of one Norman Foster as director. It turns out it’s all about spreading ownership of the UK’s biggest architecture practice as part of the succession plan for the business.

A Fosters spokesperson told Astragal: ‘The shareholder base has been strengthened, transferring ownership of shares in the practice among its new and existing 159 partners. This will provide a sustainable structure for the future. In doing so, it maintains total ownership by the partners and frees up shares for the next generation.’

Border crossing

Above view

Above view

Source: Rael San Fratello

The global media was gleeful last week about a quirky, playful challenge to US president Donald Trump’s increasingly isolationist stance – pink seesaws (‘teetertotters’ in American) mounted through a small section of the wall between Mexico and the USA. 

The fun but provocative scheme was designed by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, co-founders of Californian architecture practice Rael San Fratello, who posted images of children and adults on either side of the border playing on the temporary installation.

The event was widely reported as a show of togetherness and defiance against Trump’s plans to build a wall across the entire length of the border.

Rael wrote on Instagram that the installation was ‘one of the most incredible experiences of my and [San Fratello’s] career’. Dubbing the event the Teetertotter Wall, Rael said it was ‘filled with joy, excitement and togetherness’. 

‘The wall became a literal fulcrum for US-Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other.’ 

Louvre: non merci

The Louvre in Paris has removed the Sackler name from its Near Eastern Antiquities wing, due to the philanthropist family’s links to the epidemic of opioid deaths in the USA. The museum removed the name after a protest by US art photographer and activist Nan Goldin. The Sackler family is contesting lawsuits from US states and cities over its promotion of the painkiller OxyContin in the 1990s. The Sackler name is perhaps best known in the UK for its philanthropic support for London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery, renovated and extended by the late Zaha Hadid. When asked, a Serpentine Gallery spokesperson said it had ‘no plans’ to remove the name.

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