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December 18 2011

Viñoly brought in as Chelsea looks at move to Battersea power station

Architect behind latest failed redesign for London's Battersea power station hired as creative brain behind developer Mike Hussey's plan for stadium for Chelsea football club at the site

Rafael Viñoly, the architect who worked on the most recent failed redesign for Battersea power station in London, has been hired as the creative brain behind developer Mike Hussey's proposal to build a stadium for Chelsea football club at the site.

Viñoly worked on the £5.5bn revamp of the Grade II*-listed London landmark that won planning permission last year, but the plan collapsed a week ago when the power station was put into administration after its owner, the Irish property firm Real Estate Opportunities, failed to repay £324m to its lenders. The 16-hectare site in south-west London, valued at £500m in October, will be put up for sale by the administrators, Ernst & Young, with Chelsea's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich seen as a frontrunner to acquire it.

Viñoly is collaborating with the architects Kohn Pedersen Fox on the plan put forward by Hussey, a former Land Securities executive. Chelsea has not made a decision to leave its Stamford Bridge home but has appointed Hussey's Almacantar vehicle, along with KPF, to draw up plans for a 55,000-capacity stadium to be situated to the south-east of the power station.

New York-based Viñoly wants to retain as much of the power station as possible, keeping structural changes to a minimum. His new plan is thought to be less ambitious than REO's 750,000 sq metre development of 3,400 homes, as well as shops and offices. The power station's distinct four white chimneys were to be demolished and rebuilt, as they were deemed to be "beyond repair".

But Keith Garner, an architect and member of a local campaign group, said: "Jamming a large football stadium against Battersea power station is a bad idea." The Battersea Power Station Community Group wants the turbine hall turned into an exhibition centre – a showcase for British design and manufacturing – with offices and flats on the upper floors. Garner held up the successful revamp of the former Dean Clough Mills in Halifax, once the world's largest carpet factory, as an example. He has tried to get Google UK interested, which is based in nearby Victoria and needs more space.

REO's lenders, Lloyds Banking Group and Ireland's National Management Asset Agency, are keen to recoup their money. Nama is thought to prefer Chelsea, while other potential bidders for Battersea include the Malaysian property group SP Setia, UK developers including Berkeley, Development Securities and British Land, along with sovereign wealth funds and private equity firms such as Blackstone.


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February 27 2011

Alan Uglow obituary

British-born abstract painter, he became a quintessential New York art-world figure

Alan Uglow, who has died aged 69, was a British painter, installation artist, photo- grapher and musician, who, despite retaining the vocal inflections and passion for football that were legacies of his upbringing, became a quintessential New York art-world figure. His career was characterised by a highly principled devotion to the values of classic modernism, and a disdain for fashion that won him devoted admirers among both artists and collectors. His eloquently economical paintings epitomised Mies van der Rohe's dictum that less is more.

Born in Luton, the son of a master carpenter, Alan was brought up there, and in Danbury, Essex and in Peterborough. He studied at the Leicester College of Art and the Central School in London, exhibiting at the Young Contemporaries from 1960 to 1964, and at the Grabowski Gallery in 1965. As the 60s progressed, he was drawn to a kind of non-figurative art that reflected the influence of Piet Mondrian and, less obviously, Alberto Giacometti, as well as American artists including Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt.

In 1968, he made his first visit to New York and moved there permanently the following year, renting a loft in SoHo, then a nameless industrial neighbourhood, and establishing himself as a fixture among the painters, conceptualists and performance artists who congregated at bars such as Fanelli's, Max's Kansas City, and St Adrian's. He supported himself by printmaking for more established artists such as Jim Dine, and painting and decorating.

He absorbed everything the New York art world had to offer, while working slowly and patiently on his own paintings, which became increasingly refined, tending at first towards the monochromatic or the chromatically neutral. In 1974, the curator Klaus Kertess included him in a group show at the influential Bykert Gallery. By the time of his first solo exhibition at the Mary Boone Gallery, in 1978, Uglow's art had been pared down to the interplay of subtly modulated whites deployed within the framework of a highly reductive geometry.

By the early 1980s, Uglow was beginning to find himself out of step with a Manhattan gallery scene increasingly in thrall to commerce. Continuing to paint, he found an alternative outlet for his creative energy playing bass guitar, performing in New York and Europe with his second wife, the dancer and poet Elena Alexander, and becoming a founding member of the band Hard Labor.

He began to exhibit at the Lorence-Monk Gallery in New York from the mid-1980s, and later at Stark Gallery. Defying the tide of postmodernism, Uglow remained an unrepentant if undogmatic modernist, and increasingly his reputation came to depend on recognition in northern Europe, especially Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands. In 1986 and 1992, he and Alexander spent year-long sojourns in Europe, and in 1995 he exhibited in London at Gimpel Fils. European trips were relished for the opportunity to visit Stamford Bridge to support his beloved Chelsea FC.

Painting in series that evolved slowly over decades, he remained faithful to his central vision while pushing boundaries in ways sometimes apparent only when the work was installed in a gallery. Beginning in 2000, there was a radical shift in Uglow's use of colour, which became bolder and more varied, often being employed to articulate space in surprising and illusionistic ways. Some paintings displayed the graphic simplicity of a playing field or ice-hockey rink seen from above, without ever becoming merely diagrammatic.

Occasionally a piece would be freestanding, breaking with conventional notions of painting altogether. In 1998, he had a full-sized "Coach's Bench" fabricated out of wood, with a corrugated fibreglass roof and a concealed sound system that broadcast crowd noises recorded at football stadiums, as well as readings from texts by Vladimir Nabakov, Albert Camus and Harold Pinter.

With his punk black T-shirts, drainpipe jeans and his ravaged but striking features, Uglow remained a familiar figure in the bars of downtown Manhattan until a series of illnesses, culminating in a diagnosis of cancer, confined him largely to his studio. Long before, Uglow had become a cult hero to many younger artists, and the exhibition of a new work at the contemporary art space MoMA PS1, or a one-off at the Paula Cooper Gallery, came to be seen as an event.

His obstinate dedication to the values of high modernism gained growing respect in mainstream circles, and the last year of his life saw the publication of a handsome monograph devoted to his work (Alan Uglow, edited by Martin Hentschel), and major exhibitions in Germany at Museum Haus Esters in Krefeld and Museum Wiesbaden, and at Galerie Onrust in Amsterdam, the headquarters of his Dutch art dealers.

He is survived by Elena.

• Alan Philip Uglow, artist, born 19 July 1941; died 20 January 2011


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November 08 2010

Chelsea in talks to leave Stamford Bridge and move to Earls Court

Exclusive: Chelsea FC considering move to site of Earls Court Exhibition Centre – but move could torpedo plans to build 8,000 home complex

Chelsea Football Club are in talks to quit their 105-year old home at Stamford Bridge and build a ground on the site of the soon- to-be-demolished Earls Court exhibition centre to hold at least 60,000 spectators, the Guardian has learned.

The Premier League champions, owned by the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, are considering a move to the prime west London site just half a mile from their existing home amid growing concern they are losing ground to rivals with bigger and bigger stadiums.

Discussions have been kept secret because the move could torpedo a plan by the leading architect Sir Terry Farrell to transform Earls Court into a new residential enclave with more than 8,000 new homes. The scheme enters the latest phase of public consultation this week and is being undertaken with fellow landowners, Transport for London and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

"The discussion is now on again," said a source close to the deal. "It is largely because the owners are progressing alternative uses for the site and there's lots more urgency for Chelsea to make a decision. From Chelsea's point of view this is their last opportunity to get a new ground and stay in the same area they have been in for over a century."

Chelsea flirted with acquiring the same site four years ago but talks came to nothing. Now the site is larger and Chelsea's chairman, Bruce Buck, has been warned the club faces a "deficit" as a result of Stamford Bridge's lack of capacity.

"There have been discussions about it and the club is clearly considering its next step," confirmed a source close to Chelsea, who added that negotiations are at an early stage and no deal has been signed.

The club has met the site's owner, Capital and Counties, in recent months and Chelsea and its advisers are holding "a series of key meetings to decide whether to pursue a bid or not", according to a source close to the talks.

A new stadium would not be ready until 2015 because Earls Court is scheduled to host the 2012 Olympic volleyball competition before the exhibition centre is demolished. After 73 years in which it has hosted gigs by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Oasis and Madonna, its economic viability has been compromised by the establishment of major new concert and conference venues elsewhere in London, including the 02 arena at the Millennium Dome.

Tonight Buck said it was "very difficult for us to make the philosophical decision that we are going to move on", but conceded that the lack of capacity at Stamford Bridge left it out of pocket compared with other clubs.

"Certainly we wouldn't leave west London or thereabouts and there are very few sites available," he said. "We have to do things with our other commercial activities to make up the deficit that is created by the fact we don't have a 60,000 seat stadium. We can't say that we will never move or have a new stadium but at the moment, it's not at the front of our agenda."

However, Chelsea insiders said Buck is keen to boost matchday takings because Uefa is introducing rules limiting the ability of super-rich owners to bankroll clubs without squaring spending with revenues. Despite winning the league last season, the club was only fifth in terms of average attendance in football's top flight behind Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool. Stamford Bridge accommodates around 41,000 fans compared with 76,000 at Manchester United's Old Trafford ground and 60,000 at Arsenal's Emirates stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United recently made bids to occupy the 80,000 seat Olympic stadium.

The emergence of Chelsea's renewed interest in Earls Court is awkward for Capital and Counties, which has launched a public charm offensive for its housing project employing Edelman, the international public relations company. It is promoting the "four villages and a high street" vision for the area and declined to comment on negotiations with Chelsea.

"Our vision for Earls Court is for a world class residential-led development delivering thousands of new homes and jobs, and creating a remarkable new place in London," a spokesman said. "As part of that we maintain discussions with a wide range of stakeholders and neighbouring landowners including both local authorities, TfL, the GLA and the local community."


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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