“Mies van der Rohe & James Stirling: Circling the Square” at RIBA's London headquarters explores the what-could-have-been's of the historic site where Number 1 Poultry by James Stirling, Michael Wilford & Associates stands today. During the 1960s, architectural patron and developer Lord Peter Palumbo commissioned Mies van der Rohe to design the unrealized and hotly debated Mansion House Square for the very same site.
Now on display at 66 Portland Place through June 25 (it's free entry!), “Circling the Square” examines both significant architectural schemes along with never-before-seen objects and drawings.
Read on for more about the exhibition.
Mies van der Rohe envisioned the Mansion House Square as a glass tower that would have been his first and only UK project. Following comments made by Prince Charles, the long heated debate that ensued drew opinions from prominent figures like Berthold Lubetkin, Denys Lasdun, and Richard Rogers. When the proposal was rejected in 1985, Palumbo approached James Stirling to conceive an alternative vision — which turned out to be Number 1 Poultry — for the site. James Stirling, Michael Wilford & Associates completed the project in 1997.
“One of the questions posed within the exhibition is how we, with the distance of time, view Mies’s modern glass tower and Stirling’s ‘post-International Style’ within the trajectory of architectural styles and architectural history,” RIBA describes.
Which style do you prefer? Are you glad that the Number 1 Poultry proposal came to fruition or would you have given anything to see the Miesian Mansion House Square come to life?
Later this month, RIBA will be hosting some related events. On March 14, present-day architects, curators, and critics will engage in a courtroom-style debate on the schemes and make a case for their favorite style.
The following week, you can hear from Lord Peter Palumbo, Laurence Bain (project architect of No.1 Poultry), MJ Long, (former employee of James Stirling), and other key figures of both schemes in a panel discussion on March 21.
Learn more about the exhibition in the link below.
All photos courtesy of RIBA.
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