Spring 2017 US Lecture Tour Dates Published

We are very pleased to announce the dates and locations for the US lecture tour, ‘Make thy castles high and fair’:  Medieval Castles to Modern Fantasies, which Dr Jonathan Foyle will be giving on behalf of AFBAL for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and the Royal Oak Foundation this April.

Please see below for the dates and locations:

Boston: Tuesday 18 April
Philadelphia: Wednesday 19 April
New York: Thursday 20 April
Washington DC: Monday 24 April

Don’t forget to use our co-sponsor code 17SRIBA for discounted tickets at $30 each.

Dr Jonathan Foyle Biography:

Dr Jonathan Foyle was a Curator of Historic Buildings at Hampton Court for eight years, and took his PhD on reconstructing Wolsey’s palace prior to Henry VIII’s adoption of it. Having headed the British branch of the New York-based World Monuments Fund for eight years at projects including Coventry and St Paul’s Cathedrals, Stowe House and Hawksmoor’s St George’s Church in Bloomsbury, he is now an author, presenter and consultant. Since 2012 he has been a frequent writer for the Financial Times on issues of architecture, history and craft, and is currently completing his fourth cathedral monograph: Canterbury, Lincoln, Lichfield- now Peterborough. A presenter of numerous series on UK and US television, including BBC’s 15-part ‘Climbing Great Buildings’ – he co-presents a new series, ‘Restoration of the Year’ on Channel 4 this spring. He lives in an old house in Somerset, near Bath.

Dr Jonathan Foyle
Dr Jonathan Foyle

‘Make thy castles high and fair’:  Medieval Castles to Modern Fantasies:

What is a ‘castle’? While the term is now often applied to a stately home to imply monumental scale or status, its use originally indicated a fortified military residence. But to what extent were castles defensible and against whom? What does the use of the “castle” style mean in architecture when it is applied to churches—such as the western block of Lincoln Cathedral—or civic buildings? If Cardinal Wolsey was never a warrior, why does Hampton Court (1515-28) look like a castle, complete with a moat? Architectural historian Dr. Jonathan Foyle will explore the shifting associations in castle design and purpose over the last thousand years using images from the Royal Institute of British Architects’ extensive collection. He will demonstrate how the religious and political purposes of buildings later changed to become representational of political authority—such as the early medieval castle Bodiam in Sussex (a National Trust property). He will explain how Britain’s castles gave way to palatial residences as cultural values changed during the 16th and 17th century. He will also show how castles were associated with romantic rather than defensible ideals reflected in Georgian and Victorian designs—such as Penrhyn Castle, Wales—and inform our modern preconception today.

RIBA3825 Robert Elwall 1999 Photograph of Bodiam from 1385 c Robert Elwall RIBA Collections
Robert Elwall’s 1999 Photograph of Bodiam from 1385 © Robert Elwall RIBA Collections

Calling all Patrons of Architecture: Destination Glasgow on 14 – 16 June 2017

Victorian opulence, hidden Mackintosh, a Brutalist utopia and award-winning contemporary architecture: we invite you to join us on this eye-opening tour exclusively for Patrons of Architecture and American Patrons of the British Architectural Library from Wednesday 14th to Friday 16th June 2017.

The costs are £990 per person (+£180 single person supplement) including accommodation, meals, local transport and all costs associated with the itinerary. Transport to and from Glasgow is not included.

In addition, we ask participants to give a donation of £500 per person to support the work of RIBA’s British Architectural Library (charity no. 210566)

To whet your appetite, the schedule will include:

  • Special access to St Peter’s Seminary, the defining work of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia. Completed in 1966 and abandoned in the 1980s, its crumbling and defaced structure is being reclaimed as a dramatic setting for public art, performance, learning and debate by NVA.
  • A hard-hat tour of ‘The Mack’, the Glasgow School of Art building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1909 and devastated by fire in 2014. It is a unique moment to see the skeleton of the gutted library and hear the myriad questions the restoration project presents.
  • A personal invitation to Windyhill, one of only two homes designed by Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald and the only one still in private hands. Immaculately restored, it reflects the full range of influences on Mackintosh’s work, from Japanese art to early European modernism.
  • A boat trip along the Clyde, home to ambitious international architecture, with buildings by Hadid, Foster and Chipperfield, as well as the Stirling Prize-shortlisted City of Glasgow College by Michael Laird Architects and Reiach and Hall Architects.
  • An Evening Reception to meet and celebrate those shaping Glasgow’s reputation as a world-leading architectural destination, from visionary commissioners to the architects and designers themselves.
  • Two nights’ accommodation in a superior room at the five-star Blythswood Square, a grand example of Regency architecture now home to a fine collection of Scottish paintings and plenty of Harris Tweed.

To register your interest in Destination Glasgow! or for more information on the Patrons of Architecture and American Patrons of the British Architectural Library please contact Flora Woodruff on +44 (0)20 7307 3701 or patrons@riba.org or info@afbal.org


Visit DSDHA’s Award-winning Covert House on Wednesday 15 March 2017

American Friends are invited to join a tour of DSDHA’s RIBA Award-winning Covert House on Wednesday 15th March 2017. The house is comprised of two interlocked cubes, semi-underground with mirror reveals to minimise its presence in a conservation area.

We are then invited to a private apartment remodelled by Woollacott Gilmartin Architects to showcase post-war British and Brazilian art and furniture as well as beautiful views over Green Park.

For more information or to RSVP please contact Flora Woodruff on +44 (0)20 7307 3809 or Patrons@riba.org.coverthouse_christofferrudquist5

Tour of Two Award-Winning homes in West London on Thursday 19 January 2017

American Friends are invited to join an afternoon of award-winning residential architecture in West London on Thursday 19th January 2017. Coffey Architects use warm oak and clever glazing to bring light to their Modern Mews in Bayswater. Henning Stummel Architects’ Tin House is a composition of six metal-clad pavilions around a secluded courtyard in Shepherds Bush. We are invited to meet the architects and tour these inventive designs, both 2016 RIBA London Award winners.

For more information or to RSVP please contact Flora Woodruff on +44 (0)20 7307 3809 or Patrons@riba.org.

Tin House. (Photo: Luke Caulfield)

Patrons Christmas Party on Thursday 8 December 2016

This Christmas, American Friends and Patrons are invited to an 1860s house on Hyde Park, the former home of The Royal Society of Literature with a varied and interesting history. Architect Thomas Croft and interior designer Francis Sultana have remodelled the house into a modern family home which includes specially commissioned furniture by Mattia Bonetti, Fredrikson Stallard and others.

For more information or to RSVP please contact Flora Woodruff on +44 (0)20 7307 3809 or Patrons@riba.org.


Review of Fall 2016 Event – Lord Palumbo at the British Embassy in Washington DC on 12 October 2016

The American Friends hosted a wonderful evening with Lord Palumbo speaking about his life in architecture at the stunning Sir Edwin Lutyens-designed the British Ambassador’s Residence in Washington DC on October 12th 2016.

Hosted by Sir Kim and Lady Darroch and moderated by Abraham Thomas, Lord Palumbo dazzled guests with his talk which included descriptions of architectural projects and achievements along with reminiscing about relationships with such architectural titans as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Berthold Lubetkin, Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier.

This presentation precedes RIBA’s Spring 2017 exhibition at the Architecture Gallery at 66 Portland Place, which will focus on the Mansion House Square scheme. Commissioned by Lord Palumbo in the early 1960s, Mies van der Rohe’s proposal for a 19-storey office building, public square and underground shopping centre in a conservation area of the City led to years of heated debate and a major planning inquiry in the 1980s. With the rejection of Mies’s tower in 1985, Palumbo commissioned James Stirling Michael Wilford and Associates to design an alternative scheme for the site, the postmodern No. 1 Poultry, which continues to occupy the site today.

The American Friends of the British Architectural Library would like to thank His Excellency, Sir Kim Darroch CMG, KCMG, Lady Darroch, Ms Amanda Downes, Lord Palumbo, Mr Abraham Thomas and Mrs Claire Cox for their incredible assistance with this event – we are very grateful.

Please join as a member if you don’t want to miss out on future events like this.

A selection of images from our visit to Washington DC in October 2016

Architecture for Artists: The Hammersmith Studios on Thursday 10 November 2016

American Friends are invited to join the Patrons for Architecture for Artists: The Hammersmith Studios on Thursday 10 November 2016. Join architect MJ Long and artists Peter Blake, Paul Huxley and Ben Johnson for a tour of the Hammersmith Studios. In the early 90s, architectural artist Ben Johnson bought a defunct builder’s yard with fellow artists Paul Huxley and Peter Blake. With different priorities, budgets and styles of working, the artists commissioned the architect MJ Long to transform a once industrial space into three artist’s studios. Long described the process as a “magical mystery tour” and will share her experience of finding a solution for all three.



Peter Blake was born in Kent in 1935. He initially studied at Gravesend Technical College, before completing a period of national service in the Royal Air Force. He went on to study at the Royal College of Art and later won the Leverhulme Research Award to study popular art throughout Europe. Blake is a pioneer of Pop Art, his style evolving from classical naturalistic oils to collaged works featuring images of movie stars and musicians.


Paul Huxley studied at Harrow School of Art and later at the Royal Academy Schools. He has participated in many group and solo

exhibitions, both nationally and internationally. From painting to sculpture and ceramics, Huxley’s works are characterised by geometric and architectural shapes and bright hues. He taught at the Royal College of Art from 1976, becoming Professor of Painting there from 1986 until 1998, when he was appointed Professor Emeritus. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1987 and was Treasurer of the Royal Academy from 2000 – 2014.


Ben Johnson was born in Wales, in 1946. He studied at the Royal College of Art and has lived and worked in London since 1965. Perhaps best known for his large-scale, intricately detailed cityscape paintings of Hong Kong, Zürich, Jerusalem, Liverpool and London, Johnson has exhibited in galleries and museums across the world, as well as with Norman Foster at the first Venice Architecture Biennale in 1991 and again in 2012. Johnson is an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA, recognised for his contribution to the public’s understanding of contemporary architecture.


MJ Long was born in the USA in 1939, and received her MArch from Yale in 1964. She moved to the UK in 1965, becoming director of Colin St John Wilson and later founder of Long & Kentish. Long has worked on a variety of projects from private homes to public spaces including the British Library, Durlston Castle in Swanage and the new wing of Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, as well as a number of university buildings, restaurants and conversions.

To attend or for more details, please contact Flora Woodruff on +44 (0)20 7307 3809 or Patrons@riba.org.

Tour of Three Private Houses in Suffolk on 26 October 2016

American Friends and Patrons are invited to join a full day on Wednesday 26th October 2016 as we explore the Suffolk countryside and three private houses that respond to their surrounds in remarkably different ways.

Walk Barn Farm

Sitting in a wide open pasture surrounded by Suffolk heathland, Walk Barn Farm has been compared to a Frank Lloyd Wright prairie house. Three wings project out in to the landscape with a raised terrace and decked areas nestled between them. Black timber cladding, galvanised steel Crittal windows and polished concrete floors are all materials in keeping with agricultural buildings, but are here employed with a sensitivity that is unmistakably domestic. Designed by Charles Barclay Architects, Walk Barn Farm was awarded a 2013 RIBA Regional Award.

Heveningham Hall

Heveningham Hall is one of the grandest Georgian country homes. Designed and built by Sir Robert Taylor in 1778 around an earlier building of 1714, it was completed a couple of years’ later by James Wyatt, who also designed the interiors. The grounds of just over 200 hectares include landscaping by Capability Brown and further significant buildings such as the Orangery, Temple and icehouse. The present owners have undertaken an extensive programme of restoration. They invite us for lunch and a rare glimpse inside the Hall.

Marsh Hill

Marsh Hill was designed by the RIBA Award-winning practice Mole Architects. Described by Elle Decoration as making buildings that are ‘not just green but gorgeous’, Marsh Hill exemplifies their commitment to cutting-edge sustainability and distinctive design. A twisting zinc roof folds up to contain the master bedroom and a linear plan makes the most of stupendous views over the tidal salt marshes and the River Alde. The owners and the architect invite us to hear how this remarkable home came to be.

As for logistics, we will depart promptly at 7.30am by private coach from RIBA, 76 Portland Place, London W1B 1NT and will return around 7.30pm. The journey takes a little over three hours each way.

There will be a cost of £50 per person to cover transportation and refreshments.

For more information and to book your place, please contact the Development Office on 0207 307 3809 or Patrons@riba.org.

Autumn Installation Launch with artist Giles Round on 21 September 2016

On Wednesday 21st September, American Friends and Patrons are invited to the opening of RIBA’s autumn installation in our London HQ. ‘We Live in the Office’ is a site-specific commission by Giles Round drawing on RIBA’s collections and exploring the tension between the changing interior and static exterior of buildings. We will be turning RIBA inside out with talks, films, workshops and activities working between graphics, design, art, architecture, interiors, and set design.

Please note that Benefactors and Founders will also be invited to an intimate dinner to celebrate RIBA’s artistic and architectural collaborations.

Please click here for more information.

Artist Giles Round found inspiration in the RIBA Collections including Berthold Lubetkin’s drawing of an Unexecuted alternative design for a prefabricated house front, 100 Houses Scheme, Thorntree Gill Housing, Peterlee from 1944. © RIBA Collections


The Magnetic North, a Special Live Performance, on 9 August 2016

The Magnetic North presents The Prospect Of Skelmersdale a special live performance at RIBA on Tuesday 9th August 2016.

American Friends are welcome to join us for a one off special event with The Magnetic North performing with a full band line up (including strings and woodwind) and the premier screening of their new short film, with appearances from very special guests from the architecture and literary world.

The band’s new album The Prospect Of Skelmersdale explores themes of utopian dreams, architecture, new towns, people and place. In partnership with the RIBA and co-curated with @vine_collective/Third Nature the event will complement the themes of the current exhibition At Home in Britain – Designing the House of Tomorrow.

Please click here for more information and tickets.

Magnetic North Gig 9 August 2016
The Magnetic North (Image credit: McCoy Wynne)