Director, Brian Johnson discusses the history surrounding the Mansion House Square project in London and its connection to AHR:
"This spring there is an exhibition on display at RIBA in London entitled ‘Mies Van Der Rohe and James Stirling: Circling the Square’. In the words of RIBA "its an exhibition offering a renewed examination of two iconic architectural schemes proposed for the same site in the City of London. Commissioned by architectural patron and developer Lord Peter Palumbo, Mies van der Rohe’s unrealised Mansion House Square project will be explored alongside its built successor, James Stirling Michael Wilford & Associates’ newly listed No. 1 Poultry."
"It is a great piece of architectural history detailing the capital's first triumph of post modernism over modernism. However, for us it is much more interesting than that because, surprisingly, there is an AHR connection.
"1999 was the year Abbey Holford Rowe was founded by the merger of Abbey Hanson Rowe and Holford Associates; the later referring to the practice of Lord Holford, a past RIBA and RTPI President, as well as Professor of Architecture at University of Liverpool and The Bartlett. This is a proud part of AHR’s heritage and it is exciting to see Lord Holford’s work included in this prestigious exhibition.
"In 1967, Holford was commissioned by Rudolph Paulmbo (a prominent city developer at the time) to develop a scheme for the west side of Mansion House square. Palumbo, realising that such a sensitive site would require an outstanding design if it was to stand any chance of gaining consent, appointed Mies van der Rohe to work with Holford on the commission. This would have been one of Mies Van der Rohes last projects and his only one in the UK.
"Whilst the scheme received the City of London's agreement in principle, in 1969 there was a severe delay by the developer who had only managed to acquire 12 of the 13 freeholds and 345 of the 348 leases needed, so the in principle agreement ran out.
"In the early 1980s, Rudolph Palumbo's son Peter tried to revive the scheme, appointing Holford Associates to submit a planning application for the Mies tower. On a personal note, I as a very young architect remember visiting Holfords London offices on Upper Thames Street around that time and being shown the Mies Van Der Rohe drawings and the working drawings prepared by Holford Associates.
"The proposals divided the architectural community, however, the issue was finally put to rest in 1985 when planning consent was refused."
The Mies Van Der Rohe and James Stirling: Circling the Square is a free exhibition running from 8th March to 25th June 2017 at The Architectural Gallery, RIBA in London. Further details about the gallery can be found here.
Image courtesy of John Donat / RIBA Collections