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Chewing the FAT

Today’s big news in architecture has been about the decision of the practice FAT to call it a day.

Today’s big news in architecture has been about the decision of the practice FAT to call it a day. Deliberately iconoclastic and controversial, the three founders probably never expected to last the 23 years that they did, nor to have such a built corpus of work. Getting out at a time of their choosing, when all three have busy careers elsewhere sounds like common sense. Richard Rogers and Norman Foster may have careers as grand old men (the Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger of architecture?) but one can hardly see FAT doing the same in 30 years – although, cheekily, they say they would like a sponsor to arrange their reunion in 20 years’ time.

One interesting thing is the way that they have managed the news. I saw it first in a tweet from Olly Wainwright, architecture correspondent of the Guardian, followed very soon by another tweet from the practice, linked to its own website. When I tried to access this page later, it had crashed, suggesting a volume of traffic that the site had never previously experienced. Then came the online stories, first from BD and then from AJ, the latter linking to four building studies. Dezeen had it up pretty smartly too, but without a stop press newsletter for subscribers, it was not immediately apparent that it had done so. Its practice of running entire press releases below its stories paid off here, as it carried the entire statement from the practice.

Anyway, it was a pretty slick operation, and one must also admire what was also probably more than coincidence, in Sean Griffiths having the ‘my inspiration’ slot in Building Design last week, talking about Adolf Loos’ American Bar in Vienna. FAT has always prided itself on its communication skills. Its planned demise is no exception.

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