After a build up in the British press, the Prince Charles vs. Modernists showdown may come to a head this evening when The Prince of Wales serves as the keynote for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Trust Annual Lecture 2009. His return to speak at RIBA is not sitting well with modern architects including Will Alsop, Chris Wilkinson, Peter Ahrends, and Tony Fretton, who have called for a boycott of the event.
Of note, tonight's speech coincides with the 25th anniversary of Prince Charles' 1984 address to RIBA, where he described plans for a modernist extension to Britain's National Gallery as a "monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved friend." (Get the full text of his speech here.) Among the additional remarks, there are encouraging pieces—"To be concerned about the way people live; about the environment they inhabit and the kind of community that is created by that environment should surely be one of the prime requirements of a really good architect"—alongside criticism: "For far too long, it seems to me, some planners and architects have consistently ignored the feelings and wishes of the mass of ordinary people in this country. Perhaps, when you think about it, it is hardly surprising as architects tend to have been trained to design buildings from scratch—to tear down and rebuild. Except in Interior Design courses students are not taught to rehabilitate, nor do they ever meet the ultimate users of buildings in their training—indeed, they can often go through their whole career without doing so. Consequently a large number of us have developed a feeling that architects tend to design houses for the approval of fellow architects and critics, not for the tenants."
Tonight, according to the Guardian, it's expected that His Royal Highness will emphasize to the sell-out audience the importance of producing buildings that fit the historic character of an area. Stay tuned. And in the meantime, here's a particularly interesting note to the profession from The Times.
And, oh yes, almost forgot: Her Majesty the Queen will be on hand as well to present the Royal Gold Medal to Álvaro Siza (the fourth time in her reign that The Queen has presented the medal personally.)