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Why do architects love Stirling's buildings, while the public and users hate them?

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Architects including Norman Foster and Richard Rogers respond to this question, posed by academics to Alan Berman when his practice, Berman Guedes Stretton, surveyed James Stirling’s Florey Building at Queen’s College, Oxford

The buildings in James Stirling’s Red Trilogy – the University of Leicester’s Engineering Department (1963), the Florey Building at Queen’s College, Oxford (1971), and the History Faculty Library at the University of Cambridge (1967) – dazzled and influenced a generation of architects.

They were also immediately loathed by their users and clients. Such buildings had never been seen before, and members of the British academic establishment, patrons of the post-war building boom, wrote warning each other not to employ Stirling. His career and reputation suffered and all three buildings fell into poor repair.

This dislike was fuelled by poor technical performance: the buildings leaked, were draughty and noisy, and cold in winter and hot in summer. Demolition of all three was contemplated. Now all are listed, but there are still those who dream of the wrecking ball. These were contrary, radical, even dangerous buildings, and their power remains undimmed. Dynamic and exhilarating, they unashamedly hold the line against the banal, the mundane and the risk-averse in the battle to make the act of building into the art of architecture.

All text is from Jim Stirling and the Red Trilogy: Three Radical Buildings, Frances Lincoln, October 2010, £30.

See links in the right-hand column for the professional opinion on Stirling

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