How No1 Poultry almost lost its stripes

No 1 Poultry

Source: Benjamin McMahon

The project architect on Stirling’s masterpiece recounts the extraordinary story behind his luckiest break

I had just left university and was working at a small practice in Soho when I got a call out of the blue one weekend from someone claiming to be Michael Wilford offering me a job.

Of course I thought it was a wind-up and kept asking: “Who is this?” But eventually he convinced me it was really him, James Stirling’s partner. He said he had spoken to my tutor and they needed someone to help on the Carlton Gardens competition they were just beginning.

I jumped at the chance and, a few days later, I arrived at the office, a five-storey Georgian terraced house on Fitzroy Square. There were about 25 of us and it was an unbelievable environment, more like an art gallery than an office. This was late 1988 but they did every drawing by hand – some of them were coloured by Jim himself – then framed and hung them on the walls.

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