27 JUNE 1987, Page 25

No taste for buns

IT is hard luck on Peter Palumbo that he can point to a hundred property developers who get their dirty work designed by ruler and setsquare without any of the obloquy that comes to him when he commissions the most eminent names of the time. He had to fight through the ecclesiastical courts to get his Henry Moore altar — 'the camembert' — into the Wren church of St Stephen's, Walbrook, where it is perfect. He lost his fight to put up his Mies van der Rohe tower — 'the stump' — next door. Now the City fathers have overruled their planners and turned him down, throwing out James Stirling's jazzy design for the Poultry site across the road before it even had a nickname — 'the City Clore'? 'The iced bun'? Supporters of the stump and the bun argued that they would stand for the modern City. That is to misunderstand the City both ancient and modern — its Victorian masonry and hidden byways, and also the huge open office spaces and tall ceilings being purpose-built for the new style of market. Stump and bun would be neither. The Japanese who have bought the Financial Times out of Bracken House will have to put the new into the old shell, and so should Mr Palumbo at Poultry. His fellow developers have left the City with plenty of hideous and inefficient buildings which he could buy and replace.