I tracked Jim Roberts down, then in his 80s, to his home on the edge of the New Forrest where he lived with his snow white husky. After three generous gin and tonics and hearing Jim’s epic life story, I summoned [the] courage to suggest the radical changes to Jim’s most famous building. At the, Jim disappeared into his bedroom to return with his original sketches from 1961, the year I was born, of the Rotunda as we now proposed with spandrel panels separating the full height glazing, however he explained that this had not been possible in the 1960s due to technical and economic limits. Glenn Howells, architect of the refurbished Rotunda in Birmingham.

Nic Gaunt’s exhibition about the Rotunda is called Rotunda – 21 Stories. Excellent photography and the book comes with a DVD of interviews. I especially like the looping back and ‘passing on’ shown in the quote above. Howells encountered some resistance to his plan for renovating the Rotunda from the Twentieth Century Society and others who are concerned to preserve the landmark. We sometimes forget that what gets built is a compromise…

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