Steven Holl's designs for a Maggie's Centre at St Bart's Hospital in London have finally been approved, after a tense debate among the City of London Planning Committee which culminated in a vote of 11 to 10 in favour of the design. The approval puts an end to a year of controversy, after Holl's first attempt failed to gain planning (the first time a Maggie's Centre has ever been declined permission) and a protest group commissioned a rival scheme by Hopkins Architects which gained planning permission in April.
More on the decision after the break
Much of the controversy around the design stems from its proximity to the Great Hall, the 18th century wing at St Bart's Hospital designed by James Gibbs.
With the committee divided almost evenly, its members took turns to either defend or criticize the building, with one member calling Holl's design "nothing short of a carbuncle on the edge of a most beautiful grade I listed building," and adding that "sometimes even eminent, world-class architects can design carbuncles."
However, those in defense of the building compared the sleek modern addition to the historic structure compared it to IM Pei's pyramids at the Louvre, or to the Oxford and Cambridge colleges which have created modern additions to their original buildings.
Attending the hearing in person, Holl insisted on the design's sensitivity to its site, saying that "it was a great honour and a serious challenge to make a building like this in the heart of the most sensitive part of London." The decision was the second piece of good news in as many days for Holl, who on Wednesday was named the 2014 Praemium Imperiale Laureate for Architecture by the Japan Art Association.
At the hearing, the committee also voted in favour of a related scheme by Donald Insall Associates which will see the restoration of the Great Hall and a reappraisal of its internal circulation, in order to ensure its functionality alongside Holl's design.
Story via BD Online