...as Viñoly defends his ‘walkie talkie’

Rafael Viñoly was quizzed over the sustainability of his proposed “walkie talkie” tower this week as a landmark public inquiry on the scheme got under way.

Robert McCracken QC, acting for English Heritage, which is fighting the Land Securities’ tower in the City of London, also called on Viñoly to defend the building’s effect on key London views.

As revealed by BD, the heritage body has condemned the tower, at 20 Fenchurch Street, as “oppressive and overwhelming”, despite support from Cabe and the City (News February 23).

But Viñoly defended his building and the City’s planning policies robustly. He has won backing from a coalition of other world-famous architects including

Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Cesar Pelli, Eugene Kohn and Frank Gehry, who have all written letters of support for the tower.

McCracken questioned the schemes’ green credentials and asked Viñoly to defend its impact on the “critical” view of the City from Waterloo Bridge.

Viñoly denied any view would be adversely affected. “Buildings occur in this city in a self-assured way and this is one of them,” he said. He added that the City should be praised for fostering a planning environment that attracted the best architects from around the world.