Archive for 07/08/2011

Ike Ijeh – 

There can be few more intimidating places to insert contemporary architecture in London than Greenwich. The Queen’s House was the first classical building ever built in the British Isles.

The Old Royal Naval College is considered by many architectural historians to be Wren’s greatest work. It forms the centrepiece of a spectacular classical ensemble referred to by renowned critic Nikolaus Pevsner as “one of the finest baroque set-pieces in Europe”.

As well as Wren and Inigo Jones, some of the most influential figures in English architecture also left their mark here, including Hawksmoor and Vanbrugh. And to top it all, Greenwich is one of only four Unesco World Heritage Sites in London.

None of this, however, fazed architects Purcell Miller Tritton and CF Møller which have just completed a £35m extension to the National Maritime Museum: the Sammy Ofer Wing.

“Obviously we were conscious of the world class location and heritage,” explains PMT project architect Elizabeth Smith, “but we remained committed to our core concepts, which were to present the museum with a new facade onto Greenwich Park, to provide a clearer link between the main museum and the Royal Observatory, to deliver contemporary architecture that was sensitive to its historic surroundings and to provide up-to-date facilities that allow visitors to experience the full breadth of what the museum can offer.”

This has been achieved against the backdrop of a period of unprecedented notoriety and publicity for the south London borough. Greenwich Park is the controversial venue for the equestrian events during next year’s Olympic Games.

The Queen is set to elevate the borough to “royal” status next year as part of her Diamond Jubilee. And work is proceeding apace on Grimshaw Architects’ restoration of the Cutty Sark tea clipper, also set to re-open next year.

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Allison Manning –

It’s a dirty job, but those who scuba dive want to do it: scrub the artificial reef clean in the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Or feed the fish that surround them.

Some of the best scuba diving in central Ohio is just a chore away.

Nearly 60 experienced divers gladly pick up a toilet-bowl brush and scrub the artificial reef or feed the fish at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Discovery Reef, all for the opportunity to swim with more than 70 species of fish, rays and sharks.

Dave Martin, 60, started diving at the zoo in 1998, first as a cleaner and now as one of the feeders. There’s a simple reason he keeps coming back.

“If you’re a scuba diver, being in the water is what it’s all about, and diving in Discovery Reef is the best diving in central Ohio,” said Martin, Sunbury’s village administrator. “You can’t go to the Caribbean every weekend to dive in clear water.”

ew members of that original class are still diving. The scuba divers are a small contingent of the zoo’s volunteers, but their job is so popular that the zoo gave up on adding people to a waiting list years ago, said curator Mike Brittsan. Like all other volunteers, divers are covered by the zoo’s liability insurance.

Although it’s one of the most in-demand jobs, it isn’t always the most glamorous. Some pick up one of three weekly cleaning shifts, scrubbing the artificial reef with sponges and rough brushes to bring out the vibrant colors.

Others take part in daily feedings. The diver in the tank will wear an underwater communication mask, which allows talking to the visitors outside while hundreds of fish and a few sharks swim around and eat their lunch.

“When you’re in there to feed, they follow you around,” said Martin, whose favorite fish is the unicorn tang. “They’re your best friend in the world.”

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