At that time, Rogers had been commissioned by the government to look at ways to revitalize rundown urban areas. The massive Millennium Dome project fell under this edict, and although it has been the subject of mirth and national disappointment (one critic described it as “the world’s largest refrigerator magnet”), Rogers is proud of the construction of the Dome. The architect reports that he spent a mere $82 million of the Dome’s $1.1 billion total budget, adding he had nothing to do with its contents, which many people understand to be the problem. Lord Rogers–whose career spans the famed Lloyd’s of London building, the new Welsh Assembly building, and Paris’s Pompidou Centre with Renzo Piano–is not only deservedly renowned, but refreshingly honest. Montevetro is his first residential building in England (apart from the design of his own home) and its popularity has already been proven. In a matter of weeks, high-priced, highly-designed penthouses were snapped up at the same rate as the more demure lower-level apartments, which can hardly be considered as the dregs.
Constructed in step formation on the site of a demolished warehouse on a bend in the Thames across the river from the chicest row of terraces at Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, Montevetro can boast not only river views but also, closer on its own bank, proximity to a 17th-century church built by Sir Christopher Wren as well as a pair of landmark 1960s apartment blocks.
Lord Rogers created Montevetro as a composition of five distinct but attached parts, in ascending order from A block to E block, E forming the tallest of the stepped columns. Within each block there are two penthouse apartments, the most impressive being the taller one in the E block where views through glass walls extend 360 degrees. All penthouses have full-height glazing on their east and west elevations and double- or triple-height rooms with ceilings reaching 30 or more feet.