Yesterday I had the opportunity to ask Will Alsop some direct questions a few years after he was unceremoniously dumped from the Fourth Grace(sic) Scheme that he had put so much into, in fact he may have even staked his company on the schemes go-ahead. I did not wish to wind him up or get him annoyed but it seems, from his reply that the whole World Heritage Blight fiasco is still an open wound with him.
It was an open question and answer session organised by Building Design Magazine. http://www.bdonline.co.uk/ This if we remember is the influential architectural publication that awarded Liverpools Terminal Ferry Building the 2009 Carbuncle Cup award.
Wayne Colquhoun :
Your past comments about Liverpool when you were promoting the idea for a Fourth Grace said “Liverpool aint easy” could you elaborate
Monday June 28, 2010 3:37
William Alsop: I never floated ideas for the Fourth Grace, it was a competition which was limited to four architects of which I was one. I made a detailed presentation and was fortunate enough to win on the basis that the North West development agency would have to put in £70million of public money otherwise they should choose one of my competitors. They agreed to do this and subsequently ringfenced the £70million. I then continued on detailed work until the project was cancelled because they had to raid the £70million to meet a shortfall of funds on the King's Dock project. In my opinion Liverpool had used their planning department as a stalling device.
Monday June 28, 2010 3:41
Wayne Colquhoun : ] Indeed I think you were taken advantage of by the Liverpool city council in order to put the idea to develop the World Heritage Site, which should not have been touched. I did not like your scheme but the public in general are agreed that they would have prefered your Cloud.
Monday June 28, 2010 3:48
William Alsop: I agree up to a point. I think the site required a building, which was as brave as the three existing graces. I was in Liverpool a lot at the time in question where I got nothing other than support from the good people of Liverpool. I feel that the Liverpool museums who were stakeholders in the project always had their own agenda and were not helpful. Indeed, you could say perhaps even two faced. In the end, this is all history but I do believe that Liverpool deserves much better than it got whether it was my building or not. What they have ended up with lies in the general malaise of architectural mediocrity that we find so popular with the current architectural press. I am sorry you didn't like my proposal but in spite of this, I am sure you are a very nice man.
Monday June 28, 2010 3:53
Wayne Colquhoun : ] Thanks for your honesty.
Monday June 28, 2010 3:59
This is of course a brief exchange but it tells such a lot. He calls Liverpool Museums two faced. I think myself, they are five faced.
I could have told him that and with Mike Storey as council leader, later to resign in disgrace, and on the NWDA committee and a trustee of Liverpool Museums at the time anything else could have hardly have been expected.
I am understating when I say I didn’t like the idea, I hated it. It was from Cloud Cuckoo-land, but I know he was used by the Council Spivs to develop the idea to develop a world heritage site. Very Cosy the way Neptune Developments stayed there though.
I think the cloud was cuckoo land and would have been a Disgrace never mind a Fourth Grace(sic). But what we have ended up with, The Fifth Grace, by his help and throwing his weight behind the Fourth, is World Heritage Vandalism.
This is a building he designed called The Public, In West Bromich, that closed before it had opened.
It has an uncanny resemblence to The Black Coffins at Mann Island that he proclaims are "A malaise of architectural mediocrity".