‘Bland’ Buchanan Galleries plan may be out of step
Designs for the demolition and redevelopment of the Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow have been described as “bland and instantly forgettable” as the city looks to the future shape of shopping.
Developer and site owner Landsec, which wants to pull down the 23-year-old mall and adjoining multi-storey car park, is working with masterplanner Foster + Partners and Michael Laird Architects together with emerging local firm New Practice.
The proposals for the £800 million “net zero, mixed-use urban district”, will go out to a third and final round of public consultation on Thursday (26 January).
The design proposed would allow for the eastward extension of Sauchiehall Street, connecting with Queen Street station.
A statue of Donald Dewar, the first Scottish First Minister, who died in 2000, will remain in the new proposal.
However, it involves the controversial demolition of the steps at the top of Buchanan Street, a popular location for relaxation and for local demonstrations. Sources say their removal looks inevitable, though there is a campaign to save them.
A spokesperson said: “[We] fully recognise they serve as an important space for public gatherings, so the designers have carefully and thoughtfully proposed innovative options that include replacement steps with improved accessibility for all, which would also contribute to an overall increase in the amount of public space.”
The steps had previously been earmarked for demolition under proposals approved in 2015 by BDP, which won approval to double the size of the 55,000 sq metre centre.
They were saved when Landsec decided to pause those the plans while Network Rail redeveloped the neighbouring Queen Street Station.
Local architect Alan Dunlop, who wants the steps to be retained, described Landsec’s latest proposals as “inoffensive to the point of being nondescript” and “instantly forgettable”.
He told the Architects Journal: “I can see how the redesign would make things easier for the developer to access their building but at the cost of something really special: the concert hall steps.
“Were it not for the signing above the door, the revised concert hall frontage could be any building, anywhere.”
He added: “This is just bland. The most political, virtue-signalling element of the whole arrangement is the placing of Donald Dewar at the centre of it all.”
The developer insists the new imagery reflects how the proposals for ‘key parts of the development have evolved’ as it seeks to ‘create a vibrant district in the heart of the city’. The plans include tripling the amount of green space around the area while providing new shops and restaurants, workspaces and better access to transport hubs.
No car parking will be included anywhere across ‘the urban neighbourhood’ which, the developer claims, will be “designed and constructed in a sustainable way”.