Obituary: Sir James Stirling
Wednesday 01 July 1992
This site at No 1 Poultry is the most important in London. Mies's architectural style was in contrast to the buildings that surround the Bank junction. James Stirling was a contemporary genius who would design in context, and that was his brief. The atmosphere was charged; the conservationist tide was at full flood. He recognised that the design must be of superlative quality to overcome objections to the demolition of listed buildings in a conservation area. He respected the Mappin & Webb building at the apex by Belcher, and his first design retained the building with a contemporary building of his own rising behind it. This was not a cynical exercise in expediency, but an intellectual attempt to conserve the best on the site and to complement it. The City Corporation rejected the proposal out of hand.
Stirling had no talent and no gift for the politics of planning, he cared only for his art, creating the best upon a site of physical complexity and of great prominence both in terms of location and publicity. He then designed a building for the whole site, which the City Corporation rejected, but which the Inspector, in a subsequent and second public inquiry, described as a potential masterpiece. Stirling well knew the drubbing that he would receive from conservationists of every stripe, but the integrity of his purpose, allied to the physical bravery that he had exhibited during the war, animated his concern to create the very best. Any genius will be his own man; genius without temperament is a contradiction in terms.
Having determined the area that was thought appropriate for the mix of offices and shops within the permitted height limits and with the additional amenity of roof garden and restaurant, the design was left entirely to the architect. There were no quarrels, no differences of any kind. We gave James Stirling creative freedom. I relished his scholarship, his grasp, his knowledge, his laconic style, infectious creative vigour, cultivated aesthetic taste, his gargantuan appetite for life and the stark contrast between him and the pygmies whose prejudice and ignorance left him, as ever, the prophet whose people give him scant honour.
Stirling had fully designed No 1 Poultry before the development was finally vindicated in the House of Lords in February last year. The artistic creations of any society, in any age, are the badge of its civilised values. The genius of James Stirling could, in this age, provide such a badge. When No 1 Poultry is built, the City of London will possess that great rarity in our times - a building of outstanding architectural quality. That will be not only his monument but our claim to be a civilised community.
- 1 'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it
- 5 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
Halloween 2014: From the Screaming Man of Pluckley to the 'White Lady' of the Tower of London - Britain's 20 most haunted places
Russian politician says Apple CEO Tim Cook should be 'banned' from country after coming out as gay
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...
£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...