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Gehry, Renzo Piano, and More Plead to Save London Architecture

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Rippling steel, be damned! Desperate times call for old-school measures—like epistolography, for instance. Dutch firm Maxwan, hoping to salvage Design for London from budget cuts—"a design resource for London, working on behalf of the Mayor of London"—enlisted a whole stable of starchitects to appeal to London Mayor Boris Johnson. Renzo Piano, Daniel Libeskind, Jacques Herzog, and others signed the following an open letter:

To the people of London, to the Mayor. The attractive among the world cities are so to a wide audience. They are attractive because they have a lot to offer to residents and visitors alike. Large cities excel at being economically powerful, they are hot-spots of social activity, they absorb and transform cultural energy, and they exhibit the world’s best buildings and spaces. In short, they are the stage for what has turned out to be one of the biggest attractions to people in our age: the urban environment.

How good that stage is depends on the quality of its spaces and buildings, on the quality of the way these are arranged and on the diversity of the arrangements. Enter design guidance on an urban scale – enter Design for London. Working with London’s impressive development community, Design for London was set up to help nurture urban qualities, to seek ways to improve the existing townscape and to find ways to connect – to mutual benefit – the new and the old. It does so not by designing, but by making sure that design briefs and the people involved in their execution match, by facilitating their collaboration and by making sure that money is spent where it matters to the people of London. Its budget compares to that of the city as the price of the oil that lubricates an engine and keeps it running smoothly. News has circulated the world (yes, the world) that Design for London is under threat. As architects from many countries, we want to encourage the Mayor to secure the survival of this remarkable team. We hope that he is aware of how widely admired the efforts are of this small group of talented designers. London should consider itself lucky to have a skilled, knowledgeable and creative organisation supporting efforts to make it a better city.

It would be a tragedy if Design for London were allowed to wither away.


Ben van Berkel
Mario Botta
Alain de Botton
Kees Christiaanse
Frank Gehry
Adriaan Geuze
Xaveer De Geyter
Zaha Hadid
Jacques Herzog
Daniel Libeskind
Renzo Piano
Peter St John
Rafael Vinoly

· It's All Frank Gehry, All the Time in Frank Gehry's New Building [Curbed National]
· Who We Are [Design for London]
· Star architects implore Mayor of London to save Design for London [Dezeen via Editor at Large]