Saturday, February 26, 2022

The status of the architect in New Zealand media

Eleven Years ago I wrote this:


The Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, architecturally rated the finest of them for its originality, has lost its front. Designed by Wellington settler-draughtsman Frank Petrie in 1899, it won high praise from a visiting George Bernard Shaw in 1934.
Close, but no basilica, Mr Roughan. In fact, The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament was designed by Dunedin architect Francis William Petre (Protip: pronounced 'peter') who was born and raised in New Zealand but educated and trained in England. Rather well-educated and well-trained, in fact; he was about as far from a draughtsman as one could be. Petre is interesting for so many reasons: the son of a relocated aristocratic English Catholic family who learned an awful lot about structure and concrete, applying his knowledge in numerous buildings. He designed an awful lot for the Catholics, Cargill's Castle for a member of his wife's Presbyterian family and he was known as "Lord Concrete." 

Somebody should write a book about him. I don't wish to knock Mr Roughan for making a mistake and nor am I being petty about Petre. Mr Roughan, after all, has written thus:
Christchurch is a flat canvas and it has bred architects that have been probably the country's best. Warren and Mahoney, Peter Beaven. Warren and Mahoney's Town Hall auditorium is still the most stunning modern space I have experienced anywhere.
Yes. Mr Roughan is sensitive to architecture and concerned about the future of Christchurch's past. But I am putting him right on this matter, not just because Petre was a fascinating architect but because he was an architect. New Zealanders seem to want to believe that our historic buildings


Then I stopped because nobody cares about the status of the architect in New Zealand media.



 Parts of Fa├žade by William Walton and Edith Sitwell; performed by Glenn Gould,  Patricia Rideout and conductor Boris Brott.