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Classical Architecture Exhibition at the RIBA, London, UK

Three Classicists Exhibition, London : Architecture Information

7 May 2010

Three Classicists exhibition installations, RIBA – images from 7 May 2010:

Three Classicists exhibition Three Classicists exhibition RIBA
photos : Nick Carter

Three Classicists

Exhibition: 6 – 29 May 2010, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London W1

Ben Pentreath, George Saumarez Smith & Francis Terry

Three young classicists whose skill as architectural designers is matched by their exceptional drawing talent will present an exhibition of their work at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Gallery I will be transformed by intricate life size drawings of monumental friezes and columns, hanging alongside delicate sketches and painstaking presentation drawings of classical details and buildings.

The exhibits demonstrate a mastery of the traditional drawing techniques that some fear are being lost as young architects tend to concentrate on the use of computer design. For the private view and the first two days of the exhibition, the gallery will be furnished and decorated by Max Rollitt to appear as a grand room in an English country house. Other events in the course of the exhibition will include a joint talk by the classicists.

Francis Terry:
Francis Terry

The Three Classicists, Ben Pentreath, George Saumarez Smith and Francis Terry, share a passion for classical architecture and for drawing, and although from competing practices they have all been close friends for years. Through their drawings this exhibition will explore the language of classical architecture, how they each choose to interpret it, and the skilled work of traditional draughtsmanship. On display will be around twenty drawings by each designer, ranging from an art gallery in New Bond Street, London, decorative ornament drawings for the new theatre at Downing College, Cambridge and large housing schemes such as Poundbury in Dorset.

“The young designers featured in this exhibition suggest, each in their different ways, that classical architecture is not only culturally rich and beautiful but also relevant and adaptable. Their work is a reminder that one of the constant themes of classicism is to create an architecture that resonates with the human desire for order and harmony, that offers meaning, artistry, ornament and beauty” said Dan Cruickshank, Architectural Historian.

Accompanying the exhibition will be a talk ‘Commodity, Firmness and Delight’ on Tuesday 11 May at the RIBA in which the Three Classicists will explore the fundamental principles of architecture. George Saumarez Smith will talk about Commodity (the usefulness of good buildings and their balance of economy and expense); Ben Pentreath Firmness (the importance of building for the long-term, particularly at the scale of our towns and cities), and Francis Terry Delight (the value of beauty and decoration). During the day the Three Classicists will work on a large scale drawing which will be on show at the exhibition and talk. See below for how to book tickets.

The exhibition will have an illustrated catalogue with a foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales and essays by Ruth Guilding, art historian and curator, and Hank Dittmar, Chief Executive of the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. The catalogue will also include a range of short essays by the Three Classicists entitled ‘Nine Observations on Architecture’.


‘Being ordinary is a lot more interesting than being interesting; being simple is a lot harder than being complicated’

Fawley House, Oxfordshire – drawing by Ben Pentreath:
Fawley House

Ben Pentreath is director of Working Group, a London-based urban and architectural design company that works closely with developers to improve the quality of new housing in the UK. He set up his architectural practice in 2004, when he was 32, and opened a design shop next door in 2008.

Ben has a particular interest in larger scale housing projects and is the co-ordinating designer for Poundbury, the urban extension to Dorchester. Other current projects include a new development at Coed Darcy, Wales (300 houses); Knockroon, Ayrshire (100 houses); Truro, Cornwall (100 houses); Poundbury Phase 3 (450 houses); a private house in Oxfordshire and a five star hotel in Cowes, Isle of Wight.

Ben is based in London and West Dorset, where he has recently restored a 19th century parsonage.

He read History of Art at the University of Edinburgh and then joined the office of Charles Morris in Norfolk. He spent five years working with Fairfax & Sammons Architects in New York before returning to London.

For more information about Ben Pentreath go to or

“Classical architecture is all about enjoyment: it is enjoyable to design and enjoyable to live with.”

George Saumarez Smith

George Saumarez Smith has been a Director of Robert Adam Architects since 2004. He studied at the University of Edinburgh and trained at Erith and Terry Architects in Dedham, Essex.

George regularly lectures and writes on a wide range of subjects relating to traditional architecture, both in the UK and abroad, and his work has received a number of awards including The Brick Awards 2008 for Best Craftsmanship and the RIBA Downland Prize 2006.

Richard Green Art Gallery, London – drawing by George Saumarez Smith:
Richard Green Art Gallery

George is a Chartered Architect, a member of the INTBAU College of Traditional Practitioners, and he is currently Chairman of the Trustees of the Art Workers Guild.

For more information about George Saumarez Smith go to

“For beauty in architecture I always look back. The classical architect steals the benefits of thousands of years of refinements and claims them as his own. It is the easy option.”

Francis Terry

Francis Terry qualified as an architect in 1994 from Cambridge University.
He worked in Washington for Allan Greenburg Architects in 1992 and has worked with his father Quinlan Terry since 1994. He has collaborated with Quinlan Terry on numerous buildings including 10 Downing Street, The Royal Hospital, Chelsea and Hanover Lodge in Regent’s Park.

He regularly exhibits architectural drawings at the Royal Academy and was the winner of the Worshipful Company of Architects Prize for Architectural Drawing in 2002.

Hanover Lodge Ionic Capital – drawing by Francis Terry:
Ionic Capital Drawing

He has an interest in historic buildings and served on the Georgian Group Casework panel (2005-2007) and has recently become involved in a campaign to preserve a Roman Circus in Colchester. He is a keen amateur painter and has won a silver medal for Portraiture from the Royal Society of Portrait Painters 1996 and the Windsor and Newton Young Artist Award in 1997.

For more information about Francis Terry go to

MAX ROLLITT – Exhibition Furnisher
“Nature gives life and takes it away, classicism is there to support us”

Max Rollitt is thrilled to be asked to compliment this exciting exhibition of architectural drawings with Antiques and Bespoke furniture from his Hampshire showroom.
Max trained as a furniture designer and maker. He was apprenticed and worked as a journeyman to Frearson and Hewlett, an antique furniture restoration workshop supporting the top London trade. In 1993 he took over the family business in Winchester and now deals in Fine English Antiques, his own range of bespoke furniture and has also developed a thriving Interior Design practise.

Last year the company finished work on a newly renovated Holland Park town house. Both Max and the client were long time fans of Sir John Soane and Max was inspired to reintroduce architectural detailing and combined this with beautiful objets and bespoke joinery. His current projects include a large vicarage in the Meon Valley, Hampshire; a country estate near Petersfield and two London apartments. His interiors are grounded by classical principles and then layered with eclectic furnishings and beautiful antiques to create joyful liveable homes.

He was recently included in House & Garden’s List of 100 Interior Designers. As a BADA member he has regularly exhibited at Olympia’s Fine Art and Antiques Fair. For more information about Max Rollitt go to

Three Classicists exhibition images / information from the RIBA, London

Location: 66 Portland Place, London, England, UK

RIBA Building, 66 Portland Place

The Three Classicists exhibition takes place at the RIBA Building, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD. Tel: 020 7580 5533; Nearest tubes are Regents Park, Oxford Circus and Great Portland Street. The exhibition and RIBA Café and bar are open Monday to Saturdays 10am – 5pm, Tuesday10.00- 9pm, free entry. Evening or weekend functions sometimes affect gallery opening times. If planning a visit on a Saturday or late weekday afternoon, it is advisable to call beforehand: 020 7307 3888.

The talk ‘Commodity, Firmness and Delight’ will take place at the RIBA on Tuesday 11 May at 18.30. Tickets are £8.50/£5.50. Advance booking is essential and is available via the RIBA website:, or by leaving a message on the recorded booking line: 020 7307 3699. Tickets can also be purchased at the RIBA Bookshop, 66 Portland Place, W1.

The RIBA Trust manages the cultural assets of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), including the internationally recognised collections of the British Architectural Library. It is the UK’s national architecture centre, delivering the RIBA Awards and RIBA Stirling Prize (broadcast live on Channel 4); the Royal Gold Medal; International and Honorary Fellowships; a full programme of lectures, exhibitions, tours and other events; and an education programme.

BP, the global energy company, is supporting this exhibition and catalogue through sponsorship. BP has worked closely with The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment in Southwest Wales, where the former Llandarcy oil refinery and associated land is being developed as Coed Darcy, a mixed use town of some 3500 new dwellings, to provide a new campus for Swansea University, and to assist in the regeneration of Neath town centre.

Exhibitions – chronological list

London Architectural Designs

London Architecture Designs – chronological list

London Architecture News

London Architect – design practice listing on e-architect

London Architecture Designs – architectural selection below:

The Royal College of Art, Howie Street, SW11 4AY
Architects: Herzog & de Meuron
Royal College of Art Battersea Campus London
picture © Iwan Baan
Royal College of Art Battersea Campus

Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme
Palace of Westminster building viewed across the River Thames
photo © UK Parliament
Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal

Comments / photos for the Three Classicists Architecture Exhibition at RIBA London page welcome.