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'Ruinous' plan

Architect fumes over ‘grim’ extension plan for hotel

Proposed ‘black box’ on top of Radisson

Plans to extend one of Scotland’s modern architectural gems have been heavily criticised by the original architect.

Maith Design wants to raise the roof of the Radisson Blu in Argyle Street by adding three floors to the landmark building in central Glasgow, popular with visiting celebrities including foreign football teams.

The extension would create an additional 141 rooms, increasing capacity substantially from the current 247.

A separate application proposes alterations to the front of the hotel at ground floor level and the pub becoming a retail unit.

Building owner Pandox said that “an appraisal of the current business model and operation identified the opportunity for expansion”.

The Radisson Blu, which opened in 2002, has won multiple national and international awards for architecture and hotel design and was voted among the top 10 buildings to be built in Scotland since 1945.

As it is: the hotel has won lots of awards (Pic: d2o)

Original architect Professor Alan Dunlop says the new plan “would ruin the hotel” and be “grim indeed”.

He said it “irrevocably damages a highly considered building” describing the rooftop extension as a “big black box” which is “crass, elementary and lacks design intelligence”.

He said: “Commercially I can see why the owners might want it, stacking three floors on top of the existing plan.

“Civically, architecturally, public realm-wise it would be a tragedy – a real loss to the city.”

Speaking about his original design, he added: “The scale of the [original] building and the street pavement entrance and canopy were very, very carefully considered. Both the proposed muckle four-storey black box on top and the alterations to the front will destroy all that.

“Although in 1999/2000, the west end of Argyle Street was run-down and the site had been derelict for some time, it sat within Glasgow’s conservation area.

“As one of the city’s oldest thoroughfares, Argyle Street also still retained a character and a median height of 20 metres throughout its length.

“Accordingly, the copper screen was set at 20 metres to respect and continue this median height, particularly so close to the Heilanman’s Umbrella and the scale of the thoroughfare but would allow me to build an additional one or two-storey building behind. This is what happened.

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“The proposed rooftop addition is so over-scale it dwarfs the screen. I can only assume it is a stalking horse for, in my view, no architect could seriously propose such an addition to this building.

“It is clumsy and detracts from the carefully considered copper screen front and the contextual Argyle Street ‘Glasgow’ elevation.”

A statement in support of the proposals by North Planning and Development argues that the plan “respects the surrounding historic environment” and would make a “positive contribution to the streetscape”

It says: “The scale and design of the proposals have been very carefully developed to deliver on objectives and take due account of surrounding building context and uses, and the proposals respond positively to these considerations and provide for a high-quality solution which will enhance the existing building, and which is appropriate and sensitive to surrounding buildings.”

New practice

Two architects have launched their own practice focused on conservation and heritage.

Sarah Jane Storrie and Marianne Partyka are behind Studio SJM Architects.

Ms Storrie has held RIAS Conservation Accreditation since 2013 while her practice partner is a former Page / Park director.

Ms Partyka said: “We are also witnessing a unique time in the domestic market due to the pandemic while people have been spending more time at home and realising that their homes are not conducive to the new work and family life that we are all experiencing.”

Studio SJM is aiming to become an established Scottish practice with a reputation for thoughtful, innovative design for a diverse client group. Providing architectural services for owners of historic buildings, community groups, schools and high-end domestic Clients.

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