Out of order
Robert Adam defends his building composition in Piccadilly
As every practising architect knows, when you design a significant building it will not be to the taste or conform to the theories of some commentators, usually in that order. But to suggest that any large building, such as my office building in Piccadilly, has no ‘sense of composition’, as Peter Buchanan does in his ‘Place and Awareness: Pattern Play and the Planet’ (AR August 2012), is absurd and does his interesting theories no credit. It is impossible to assemble a series of elevations of such a large building without some compositional discipline, although you cannot guarantee that every commentator will bother to analyse it.
For the record, here is the original stage-by-stage analysis of how the classical Orders are structured on the principal elevation. This system continues around all sides of the building, progressively simplified as it addresses the different street contexts. It is at least as disciplined as the imaginary proportioning systems illustrated in the same essay where some guiding lines go to the tops of cornices, some to the bottom and some to parapets, presumably to make the theory fit reality.