Sage Fights Back over Wisecrack

The Journal (Newcastle, England), December 22, 2004 | Go to article overview

Sage Fights Back over Wisecrack


Byline: By Ross Smith

A furious backlash was raging last night after a satirical magazine named Tyneside's prestige new music centre as Britain's worst new building.

Private Eye's architecture critic "Piloti" ( actually Glasgow-based academic Gavin Stamp ( described the Sage Gateshead, which opened last week, as "a big shiny condom".

But Sage director Anthony Sargent last night slated the article as a "schoolboy prank" and said the judgment was "out of step with everyone else".

And North MP David Clelland hit back at the magazine, edited by Have I Got News For You regular Ian Hislop, for being full of "rubbish".

The Sage, designed by renowned architect Sir Norman Foster, was given what the magazine dubs the "Sir High Casson Award" for the worst new building of the year.

It said: "What it has got is a gigantic metal clichA which wrecks the scale and drama of the Tyne gorge."

It described the building as looking like "a giant slug or a big shiny condom".

And it added: "Architecture is supremely a public art, and the external effect of The Sage is disastrous. Its form is incoherent and crude.

"This big, bulbous steel sheath looms over everything ( not least the Baltic Centre; its crude, tinselly form screams for attention and diminishes even the great high level bridges."

But Mr Sargent retorted: "We've grown accustomed to Piloti's rubbishing buildings everyone else loves and praising the meretricious and modish, so the moment a national newspaper greeted The Sage Gateshead with the headline `Another day, another breathtaking creation from Norman Foster' ( echoing near-unanimous praise throughout the print and broadcast media ( we guessed Piloti would express his lofty disdain. …

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