Exit stage left: architect who masterminded RSC's £100m revamp quits

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The Independent Culture

The Royal Shakespeare Company announced yesterday that it had parted ways with the architect masterminding the £100m redevelopment of its home at Stratford-upon-Avon.

The Royal Shakespeare Company announced yesterday that it had parted ways with the architect masterminding the £100m redevelopment of its home at Stratford-upon-Avon.

Erick van Egeraat, who has spent five years on the project, said he was stepping aside to allow a younger architect to take over the task, which he said required an "unrestricted rethinking".

The move follows a number of changes at the RSC since the project began. These include the arrival of a new artistic director, Michael Boyd, a new chairman, Sir Christopher Bland, and a new executive director, Vikki Heywood.

The announcement will be seen as a footnote to the ill-advised scheme of the former artistic director Adrian Noble to demolish the company's 1932 Art Deco theatre and replace it with a theatre village.

Mr van Egeraat, of EEA, is one of Europe's leading architects. The Dutchman earned plaudits for his addition to the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery in Cork but recently missed out on a commission to build a shopping arcade in Princes Street, Edinburgh.

His decision to walk away from the landmark project will raise eyebrows in the architectural world where the Stratford project was regarded as an ideal stage for his talents.

However, in a statement issued by the RSC, he said he was now concentrating on other international commitments. "I am sure there are a great number of talented architects out there who are both capable and hungry for a challenging job like this one. I have moved on since we started five years ago."

The RSC was at pains to point out that the work done by Mr van Egeraat would form part of the plan to redevelop the site.

Nearly £1m of public money has been spent on a feasibility study. The Arts Lottery has provided £714,000, and the rest has come from the West Midlands regional development agency and other local authorities.

Of the eventual £100m, half will come from the Arts Council with the remainder raised by the RSC.

Ms Heywood said the termination of the RSC's collaboration with EEA would not jeopardise the redevelopment project.

Some within the RSC had felt that the plan to redevelop Stratford had been taking place in an "overtly public arena".

The company said yesterday that following the strategic review started 18 months ago the demolition of the theatre was now "less likely".

The RSC is planning to advertise for a new architect once it has settled its artistic course.

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