Sir Christopher Wren, architect of St. Paul's Cathedral, which is considered one of the crown jewels of London, stares out from his 1711 portrait. Wren wears a charcoal gray velvet frock coat, a voluminous headful of shoulder-length brown curls, and the look of assurance that comes from having created a masterpiece. Surrounding him are a series of 17th-century original drawings, artifacts, and plans for the cathedral. They are part of the exhibition ``Sir Christopher Wren and the the Legacy of St. Paul's Cathedral,'' which H.R.H. the Prince of Wales officially opened at the American Institute of Architect's Octagon Building here last week. It closes May 8.

Many of the drawings are Wren's own, and have not been on display, even for the British public, before this. It is also the first time such artifacts of the creation of St. Paul's have been seen in the United States.

Included in the exhibition are a rare 1656 print of the 1087 Norman Cathedral that was known as Old St. Paul's, as well as Wren's plan for London in 1666.

Prince Charles has been particularly concerned about the fate of Wren's cathedral in the wake of a London building fervor that threatens to obliterate views of the famous landmark, particularly in a new project known as Paternoster Square, which will surround the cathedral.

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