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But alas, alack for London, love it passionately though I must; harmonious it was in its safe horizontal way until the 1950s; from 1960 a few promisingly taller buildings; the Shell Building, the Millbank tower, and in the seventies some passable semi-skyscrapers; but basically London hovered disasterously between two stools: its low rise nineteenth century profile and a timid Manhattanisation that barely took flight. (Seifert's cellular Centrepoint is beginning to look rather chic, I have to say.) Euston Tower may no be Mies van der Rohe but it is respectable. Canary Wharf (also by Pelli) is at least unambiguous in its self assertion. It does stand large and proud; and yes, from my window I can trace a certain linear logic through the city to Canary Wharf, which now, at the time of writing, has been joined by two of a companionable size. London could be knit together if our great architects were allowed to build what they want. The Millennium Tower mooted by Foster was of course never going to get built. Too big, too beautiful, too assertive. Now we are promised an endearing, sensual cigar shaped glass tower by the same architect. This will beautifully moderate the stark outlines of what used to be called the Natwest Tower; suddenly a whole batch of buildings will, almost magically, be given coherence. This will be "completed in 2004." I'll believe that when I see it. But no: I am getting too cynical! It is (through my sittingroom window) very visibly nosing its way above the skyline.

So there through my window, lies the unsatisfactory ragged profile of London, as ragged as the sky that scuds above it; opportunities lost, muddle, timidity, compromise. The usual old London story in fact. I suppose we'll have to settle for that.

Sydney meanwhile is, for all its surburban outreaches, coming along nicely. Seattle has knitted together sculpturally. Most dramatically, in the last ten years, the Pudong bank of the Huang Po river in Shanghai is looking good. The Pearl Television Tower is about to be complemented by the 1400 feet of the Jin Mao Building. The view from the Bund is about to surpass the view of the Bund. I will time my return to Shanghai with care.


need these streets
city sublime
seismic city
chopper shot
perfect city
dark city
global flaneur
shanghai and seoul
city tourist
loathsome centres
krung thep
sex city
hong kong
nightmares dreams
new sublime
dickens in la

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