It’s 50 this year but Denys Lasdun’s best building shows no signs of age in its celebratory exhibition
The home of the Royal College of Physicians, the favourite building of its architect Denys Lasdun, is 50 this year.
Though criticised by one neighbour as resembling a ‘sausage factory’ when it was completed, it was generally extremely well received by physicians and architectural critics alike and was grade I listed in 1998. Lasdun’s competition-winning design replaced a bomb-damaged Nash building alongside Regent’s Park, becoming the college’s fifth headquarters since its foundation in 1518.
The RCP is celebrating its building’s half century in style, kicking off with an exhibition next month on Lasdun’s career with particular reference to the RCP. Anatomy of a Building: Denys Lasdun and the Royal College of Physicians, will explore Lasdun’s design process, career and personality with the help of drawings, architectural models and memorabilia
‘It’s generally considered to be the best building that Lasdun built in the UK and one of the best by any British architect in the 1960s,’ says curator Sarah Backhouse.
She says that Lasdun spent three months observing the way the RCP used its building – research that led to the inclusion of a long, feature spiral staircase for use as a ceremonial processional route.
Catherine Croft, director of the Twentieth Century Society, admires the building for being both decorous and rebellious.
‘It exudes dignity and restraint, at the same time as being discreetly fluid and slightly blingy,’ she says.
The star turn of the exhibition is sure to be the building itself, which is frequently in demand as a film set and conference venue. This anniversary show is a great opportunity to explore it first hand.
Exhibition: Anatomy of a Building: Denys Lasdun and the Royal College of Physicians
8 September 2014 to 13 February 2015, Royal College of Physicians, London.
Conference: Lasdun and the Royal College of Physicians – 50 years in Regent’s Park