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The Norman Foster GLA egg is ...

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Monday 10 June 2002 11.08am
... a failure. In my opinion. I was so excited by it, but I have to say that now that it's almost complete, and the buildings around it are taking shape, it seems to me to fail. It's not bold enough and it's clearly not big enough. To me, it looks half-baked and half-hearted.
Monday 10 June 2002 11.16am
I'm disapointed with it too. I like the shape of the building, but the glass that's been used is very dull, and makes it look like some sort of 60s building. Additionally, you can clearly see the blinds in the offices which spoils the effect of the building from the outside. I understand that the workers might want to block out the sun, but I would have thought that an architect like Norman could have come up with some innovative design to avoid the internal decor of the offices detracting from the exterior design. I think if the building had been glazed differently it would have made this building much more bold. It's such a shame.
John M
Monday 10 June 2002 9.09pm
you are absolutely right-

Norman Foster, the man who put cheap and nasty glass in a potentially worth-while building. The same Norman Foster who managed to fail where the Romans succeeded, in building a bridge across the Thames that worked properly. And the same Norman Foster, who was part of the SLR redevelopment of Elephant and Castle, which has disintegrated amongst financial mismanagement and gross incompetence, again using London taxpayers' money. Mr Foster's reputation is all about spin, and nothing about content. If only Erskine was around to get us out of this sorry mess. A genuinely good architect, who knew how to build worthwhile social housing and a track-record that stands the test of time.
Monday 10 June 2002 9.11pm
I agree, there is a glimpse of how it could have been because some of the glazing is just clear sheets emphasizing the shape rather than detracting. I wondered if he was forced to compromise his original design, because that is what it look likes. There are some disparate elements and not the usual design cohesion and fluidity I have seen in other of his buildings. Maybe the technical constraints and the eco approach led to some changes?
Tuesday 11 June 2002 10.56am
I agree that Foster has been a bit of a disaster lately, and I\'m praying that we won\'t be saying the same when the Swiss Re building is completed. This building has the potential to be an absolute masterpiece, and if that doesn\'t live up to expectations (as the GLA building hasn\'t) then his reputation will be very seriously damaged.
Thursday 13 June 2002 3.21pm
On crossing Tower Bridge with a visitor who was staying with me, he glanced at the building and not realising it was being newly built stated "nice to see something being done over this side of the river that old 60's building looks aged, see they got workmen in to demolish it" hadn't the heart to tell him . says it all though whats it going to look like in a few years time.
Thursday 13 June 2002 4.50pm
One thing I'm certain of is that the GLA won't be in there in a few years' time. This is the secret tragedy of the building: it simply is not big enough. (I know this because Trevor Phillips told my partner.) So, in a few years, they'll have to move out, and they'll argue for a few more years about what the building should be used for, and in the meantime it will begin to fray at the edges, and eventually they'll sell it off ... etc., etc. As is the way of things in this country sometimes ...

Friday 14 June 2002 9.20am
the GLA building is disappointing. I normally don't expect much from office buildings, this one's shape underneath the scaffolding seemed to hold more promise. But when the scaffolding came down....Its finish is nothing like the promised look on the promotional boards around the site. Soon we'll be told its also awful to work in.
Friday 14 June 2002 11.04am
Incredibly, according to the architects' website (, there is no heating and no refrigeration unit in this building. I think we can quite safely say it will be an oven in the summer, and a freezer in the winter. This is what they have to say (and please, Lady Miss JJ, 'shading devices', not 'blinds'):

'Analysis of the sunlight hours falling on every part of the building throughout the year has produced a thermal map of its surface that will be expressed in the building's cladding. Where most protection from the sun is needed a system of shading devices will be employed. Less shading is required towards the north-facing fa├žade, where the glazing for the Assembly Chamber will be clear. Photovoltaic panels will collect solar energy to power bore-hole cooling. The building will be naturally ventilated, with openable windows in all office spaces. Heat generated by computers, lights and people will be recycled. The deep-plan floors allow for the collection of heat at the building's core, which can then be redirected to its periphery. The combination of all these energy-saving systems means that there will be no need for boilers or chillers in the building.'
Thursday 20 June 2002 4.51pm
an excellent addition to SE1 according to 91% of people who have voted so far. Have they actually seen it close up, I wonder?
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