(K. Brent Tomer),
FORTY years ago, the architecture correspondent of this newspaper assessed the newly-opened National Theatre building in London:
Those who regard the South Bank as something of a cultural concentration camp might be dismayed at the NT’s embattled silhouette. With its drab battledress of grey, very grey, concrete, its array of lift shafts and fly-towers punching upwards through heavily stratified decks, the NT certainly gives off a strongly militaristic flavour, rather like an aircraft carrier in collision with a Norman keep.
On its 40th anniversary, most would agree that our critic’s appraisal has aged less gracefully than the building itself. Seen from the other side of the Thames, the two fly-towers are monumental, standing at the corner of a bend in the river like the uprights of a giant concrete henge. Softened by weathering, its walls turn a radiant gold at sunset. The NT is an indispensable part of London’s skyline now, but its completion was the product of a 70-year gestation period, during which it went through five suggested sites, as many different designs and 13 years of…Continue reading