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Astragal: Phyllis Lambert on mission to save Mies furniture

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Canadian architect and philanthropist Phyllis Lambert is reported to be dismayed at plans to sell the furniture from the restaurant at the Mies van der Rohe-designed Seagram Building

The building’s Four Seasons restaurant, designed by Philip Johnson is to move from the building after its lease was not renewed, and its tables and chairs – designed by Johnson and Mies – are set to be sold.

In a letter to the New York tower’s owner Aby Rosen and his company RFR Holdings, Lambert has urged him to keep in place the furniture to ‘maintain the authenticity of the two rooms’.

Lambert, who as daughter of Seagram’s owner oversaw the building’s creation in the 1950s and was responsible for Mies’s appointment, continued: ‘Having the great Picasso curtain removed from the travertine passage linking the bar-grill and the pool rooms, you still have the opportunity to maintain the character and reinforce the tradition of this extraordinary place. A decision to acquire the furniture will secure you a place in the annals of history.’

But if the decision to auction the furniture stands then it could be a chance to get your hands on some very nice Mies van der Rohe pieces.

Is this the world’s fastest architect?

cyclist in pants 1

cyclist in pants 1

Question: What goes at 114mph on a 20-year-old converted tandem – and has an ARB registration?

Answer: Neil Campbell, an architect with Colchester practice ADP.

Earlier this month the 42-year-old broke the British and Commonwealth motor paced cycle land speed record at Elvington Airfield, near York.

The attempt, by Campbell’s own admission, was a low-tech, low-cost affair and involved the architect being released from behind a 1998 VW diesel family estate travelling at 90mph.

Once detached, the architect pedalled like billy-o, using the slipstream of a faster car, to break the record.

Campbell said he had spent less than £1,000 on the record bid, telling the local paper: ‘We didn’t have anything fancy, it was just a bit of a Scrapheap Challenge.’

But not content with his Heath Robinson-style success, the architect, who helped raise £2,000 for the British Heart Foundation, says he now wants to take on the European record (135mph) and the world record, which stands at 167mph.

Big names in frame for British Library extension

British Library by Colin St John Wilson in Euston Road

According to the London rumour mill, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Eric Parry Architects and Make are all be competing for a 1.1ha extension to the British Library.

The firms are understood to be among the bidding teams in a developer-led contest for the prestigious project, which will be built north of Colin St John Wilson and MJ Long’s Grade I-listed library and next to PLP’s and HOK’s new Francis Crick Institute (see Building Study).

Dubbed ‘Building the Future’, the scheme will create new gallery spaces, events spaces, a public entrance on Midland Road and a headquarters for the Alan Turing Institute.

The expansion follows the success of recent high-profile exhibitions on comics, propaganda and the Magna Carta, as well as a massive increase in reader numbers.

Birmingham public art in peril

John Piper mosaic

John Piper mosaic

The Twentieth Century Society has launched a campaign to save a mural from within the John Madin-designed Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, which Historic England decided not to list earlier this year. The building is now set to be demolished, and the society has launched a petition calling on the building’s owners to find a new home for the artwork.

The large mural within the entrance hall was designed by mid-20th century artist John Piper and remains largely intact. Commissioned specially for the building, the brightly coloured piece was created from gloss-fired tiles and was one of his first large-scale public works.

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