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Lord Heseltine and Lord Palumbo speak at RIBA North

RIBA North, in partnership with the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust, hosted Lord Heseltine and Lord Palumbo at the second annual Lord St John of Fawsley Commemoration Lecture.

07 November 2018

Last week, RIBA North was fortunate enough to play host to Lord Heseltine and Lord Palumbo for the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust’s second annual Lord St John of Fawsley Commemoration Lecture. Watch the recording of the event, below.

Lord Heseltine, the former Deputy Prime Minister, used the lecture to reflect on his longstanding fondness and respect for Liverpool as well as the roots of his belief in the power of devolution.

Lord Heseltine served in the Cabinet under Margaret Thatcher and John Major. He was given the freedom of the City of Liverpool in 2012 for his work on economic revival after the Toxteth riots and his continued support for the city since. The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, has described Lord Heseltine as one of the most recognisable and respected British figures of the last 40 years and a fantastic friend to Liverpool.

Lord Heseltine’s return to Liverpool alongside Lord Palumbo brought into focus the continued relevance and importance of Liverpool as a vehicle for social and political change. His recollections of his campaigns in the 1980s - for devolving power from Whitehall and re-invigorating the great industrial cities - underlined the vital importance of the Northern Powerhouse in a post-Brexit Britain.

Commenting on the evening, Lord Heseltine said: “The thing that is fascinating to me looking back is how much of what we did formed the basis for policy which was to dominate the rest of my political career.”

The event was also used as an opportunity for the RIBA to formally reiterate its gratitude to Lord Palumbo for his recent donation of the Mies van der Rohe’s Mansion House Square project archive to the RIBA Library and Collections (the British Architectural Library).

Lord Palumbo’s gift includes three remarkable large-scale models: a 1:1250 scale context model of the City of London; a 1:96 presentation model of Mies van der Rohe’s unrealised proposal for Mansion House Square in London; and a 1:50 scale model of the building’s underground shopping concourse. The archive includes original feasibility drawings by the Mies van der Rohe Office, bronze door handles and hinges sent by Mies to Lord Palumbo, photomontages by architectural photographer John Donat and historical documents and objects related to the hotly-debated development.

Speaking on the matter of its most recent collaboration with the RIBA, Executive Director of the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust, Robert Bargery said:

“One of the earliest and best decisions Michael Heseltine made as Secretary of State for the Environment was to list the Albert Dock on Liverpool Pierhead. To regenerate a great but fading city you need anchor points, and those are almost always buildings and spaces that have the capacity to inspire. If you keep your historic buildings, and then add to them with great new architecture, the dividends in the form of inward investment and urban vitality will follow when economic cycles turn to your advantage. So it is with Liverpool, which Heseltine set on a path that should now enable it to take advantage of shifts in the economic centre of gravity in the UK.”

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