Worked out your ideological resolutions? There’s a row about ‘-isms’ across the pond, Prince Charles ingratiates himself with architects (as usual), and some old bricks get a new lease of life. Plus, the New Year’s Honours


The American dialectic

There’s always a good bust-up over the festive season. Trust the architects to provide this year’s festive fisticuffs. It started when US architect Steven Bingler and journalist Martin C. Pedersen got many of their fellow professionals’ backs up by writing in the New York Times that architects should focus on designing buildings that meet people’s needs, rather than dressing up their fancy follies with reference to “a dozen -isms”. Critic Aaron Betsky hit back in the magazine of the American Institute of Architects, asserting that buildings are “made for those who have the means to commission them” and so clients are to blame if they’re ugly. Perhaps architects across the pond should resolve to just design better buildings in 2015 - then they won’t have to have this argument.

The Carbuncle manifesto

The architect’s favourite bête noire, Prince Charles, published an architecture manifesto last month. Surely scope for another bust-up here, then? The prince - perhaps most famous in architecture circles for his infamous “carbuncle” speech that derailed plans for a proposed extension to the National Gallery designed by Ahrends Burton Koralek - is rarely lauded for his views on architecture, which tend to be traditional. But his manifesto, based on 10 geometric principles, received a cautious welcome from architects canvassed by Building’s sister magazine Building Design, including Robert Sakula, Tony Fretton and Robin Nicholson. Will this be the year Prince Charles is rehabilitated in the eyes of architects? I shan’t hold my breath.

Recycling on track

I never miss a chance to trumpet my great contemporary Isambard Kingdom Brunel, if I can help it. The opportunity this week arises thanks to recent news that contractor Costain and Crossrail have donated a large number of Brunel-era bricks to charity the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, for the reconstruction of Broadway station on the charity railway line in Worcestershire. The bricks come from Costain’s Crossrail Paddington New Yard site in west London, where Crossrail archaeologists discovered foundations to the Brunel-designed 1852 Great Western Railway Locomotive Depot. How splendid that materials from Brunel’s work can be reused in this way.

New Year’s Honours List

NY pics

May I take this opportunity to doff my top hat to the many construction leaders who received New Year’s Honours - well-deserved and congratulations!


  • David Bennett, chief executive of Sanctuary Housing
  • Stephen Fox, chief executive of Bam Nuttall
  • Steve Quartermain, government chief planner
  • Peter Rees, former City of London planning officer (image 3)
  • Paul Sheffield, managing director of Laing O’Rourke’s European operations (image 1)
  • John Quinlan Terry, architect
  • Jane Wernick, of Jane Wernick Associates
  • Andrew Wyllie, chief executive of Costain (image 4).


  • Cecil Balmond, architect
  • Diana Beattie, director of Heritage of London Trust
  • Rodney Bennion, former chair of trustees at the Construction Youth Trust
  • Katharine Pugh, chief executive of Heritage Alliance.


  • Claire Gott, senior civil engineer at WSP
  • Katharine Heron, professor of architecture, University of Westminster
  • Liz Male, non-executive chair of TrustMark and member of the government’s Construction Leadership Council (image 2)
  • Carol Rogers, executive director, education and visitors, National Museums Liverpool and project leader, House of Memories
  • Ann-Marie Smale, chair of Construction Industry Council Wales.