The Twentieth Century Society

Obituary: Roland Paoletti

Roland Paoletti, who died last November aged 82, was described by Architectural Review as ‘the Medici of London Transport’, thanks to his role as chief architect of the £3.5 billion Jubilee Line Extension, seen, noted Martin Childs in the Independent, as the most audacious Tube building programme since Charles Holden’s Piccadilly Line designs in the 1930s. Opened in 1999, it incorporated eleven new stations running through south and east London.

Andrew Saint in the Guardian noted that ‘Throughout the project Paoletti as chief architect had twin roles, equally arduous, as a client for other architects and as head of a design team himself.’ Norman Foster’s Canary Wharf was seen as the centrepiece, designed to handle over 40,000 commuters an hour, yet above ground there is little sign of the cavernous interior. Two curved glass canopies at the east and west ends cover the entrances and allow daylight to flood into the ticket hall. It was clearly, wrote Childs, a homage to Paoletti’s hero Pier Luigi Nervi, like his greatest work seen through a 1990s lens. ‘Everybody keeps saying that it’s like a cathedral,’ Paoletti complained. ‘They’re wrong. It actually is a cathedral.’