Sunday20 August 2017

Yeoman accuses architectural 'elite' of over-reaction

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Architect ‘not intimidated’ by No1 Poultry backlash

Matt Yeoman has accused the profession of over-reacting to his practice’s proposals for James Stirling’s No1 Poultry in the City of London.

His opponents have misunderstood the “minor nature” of the planned alterations, he said.

The founding partner of Buckley Gray Yeoman (BGY) insisted he was not intimidated by the big guns of architecture who have taken aim at his scheme and demanded protection in the form of listing.

The “elite of architecture” was out of touch with the public view, he said.

And the outcry from Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers had not made his practice doubt its proposals, he added.

“The simple reason is that we have done a lot of thinking, studying and optioneering prior to submitting the application,” said Yeoman.

“Not for one minute has anyone looked at this quickly, come up with something and been surprised by the comments coming back, so I don’t feel intimidated whatsoever.”

BGY was appointed by investment fund Perella Weinberg, which bought the building for £110 million in April 2014, after complaints from existing occupiers about dark first-floor offices and hidden shops.

“They aren’t spending money for nothing. There’s a real concern that the tenants and occupiers won’t stay and that the client will struggle to reoccupy the building if that happens,” said Yeoman.

He said the brief was only ever “to address some very small niggles”, and that demolition had never been on the cards.

“As a practice we have quite a good reputation for the way we work with existing buildings in the commercial sector, but I’ve noticed a massive shift in the last two or three years to new build because of construction costs and tenant expectations,” he said.

“That’s interesting because in this situation, not for one second did we or the client even consider that. We like and respect the building and the architecture and we are just trying to adapt it to the changing needs of society.

“I have absolutely no problem whatsoever altering existing buildings. It’s a superbly sustainable way to go forward.”

He rejected the need to list No1 Poultry, saying it was “not threatened” and could still be listed in the future.

But he counselled against listing buildings too quickly. No1 Poultry was completed in 1997.

He also took issue with the Twentieth Century Society, Lord Palumbo and others who argue No1 Poultry was completed as Stirling intended, despite his early death.

“We wouldn’t have had these niggles to deal with had Jim survived to see his building through to completion,” he said.



Readers' comments (4)

  • Optioneering. Is that a new word in the architectural dictionary?

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    I wouldn't call those people an elite.

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  • "The “elite of architecture” was out of touch with the public view, he said.”

    Bollocks! Most of the public don’t give a flying f**k about No1 Poultry, let alone know where or what it is!!!! Big Jim wasn’t always right, let alone his inheritors : but his thinking was original. If MattY had the honesty to say “ My greedy and commercially ambitious client is trying to squeeze the maximum market rental out of this building”, at least there would be an element of honesty to this discussion rather that the present artisan piffle flying around at the moment?

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  • Mike Duriez

    It is a pity that BGY has to put in so much effort to come up with low-quality proposals to destroy this Po-Mo masterpiece.

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