The sad case of the Thames Tunnel, high-lighted by the Independent last week, has had a happy ending. The tunnel between Wapping and Rotherhithe, engineered by Marc Brunel and his son, Isambard Kingdom, was the first built under water. It now forms part of the East London Line. London Transport was due to begin lining the tunnel with concrete last Saturday. Conservationists argued that the work was not essential. On Friday, London Underground had a call from the Department of National Heritage: Stephen Dorrell, the Secretary of State, had "spot-listed" the tunnel as Grade II*, although he had rejected a request from English Heritage to do so a month before. The tunnel's future is under discussion.
Paris library opens:
The £900m Bibliothque Nationale de France, Paris, the final and most ambitious of President Mitterrand's grands projets, opens this week, just four years after the designs were approved. While library officials are singing the building's praises, its construction has been almost as chequered as that of the British Library in London. Criticisms have ranged from its cost to the absurdity of housing books in four glass towers while readers are buried away in the basement. There are also concerns that, being so close to the Seine, the building is vulnerable to flooding; and that it has no room for growth (it is estimated that it will run out of shelf space by 2002). Controversy has also raged over the use by the architect, Dominique Perrault, of rare, exotic woods from Africa and the Amazon, while the library's computer system is said to have been cobbled together unsatisfactorily in the rush to open the building. For details of tours, call 010 33 44 23 03 70.
New Soane gallery:
Next Thursday, Sir Philip Dowson, president of the Royal Academy, opens a new gallery and exhibition at 12 Lincoln's Inn Fields, part of Sir John Soane's Museum. The gallery, designed by Eva Jiricna, is housed in the former dining-room and is linked to the main museum by a new passage. The exhibition, "Soane: Connoisseur and Collector", will show some outstanding drawings from Soane's collection of more than 30,000 items. For opening times call 0171 405 2107.
The Conservation Practice would like to point out that they are the architects in charge of the restoration of the Grand Midland Hotel, London.