Friday, January 30, 2009
The Economist Building
The Economist Building (1959-64) designed by Alison and Peter Smithson. This complex of three small towers set onto a plaza is located in central London. It's smaller than expected scale gives the plaza and buildings a more humane feeling than similar buildings and urban compositions of much larger scale. The scale is appropriate to the surrounding context of St James and the fossil-rich Portland stone gives the buildings and plaza a more durable quality and atmosphere than concrete buildings of the same period.
I was surprised how much more elegant these buildings are than I had expected. The scale was also surprising being compact enough to create an intimate relationship between the towers and comfortable scale of the plaza and pedestrian routes. The buildings integration with the surrounding context and connection to the surrounding streets also prevents it's plaza from becoming a barren wasteland like so many similar buildings of the 1960's. This probably has more to do with the existing context and location in central London than it does from any particular characteristics of the design.