Strong sentiments, as part of a clear strategy, expressed by London Underground MD Tim O'Toole the other day, drawing on the rich history of the Frank Pick years in order to shape a richer future for the transport network's design and architecture work.
“Eighty years ago, London Underground and [managing director and designer of the tube map] Frank Pick were at the forefront of the design movement… What happened? Why aren’t we still in the lead? How did we allow our stations to become overrun with clutter, banks of telephones and photo booths and vending machines; bolt-on kit on top of bolt-on kit, overwhelming our control rooms and ticket offices; hopeless and sometimes pointless paper processes that cover all remaining surfaces with binders and forms; storefront and vendors encroaching on our space and obscuring our presentation. The underground has allowed the discipline of design management to be lost, merely fighting to save treasured artefacts while forgetting the importance of a coherent and consistent whole.”
As Building Design notes, some recent initiatives, such as the Jubilee Line extension, have been fine piece of work; yet Londoners will know that O'Toole is right to issue a clarion call to sort out the rest of the network.