Friday, 2 July 2010

I Heart St Nicholas House.

On the telly last night, we were looking at Reporting Scotland. There was a report about some crooked councillors in South Lanarkshire. A shot of their council headquarters was included in the package. South Lanarkshire's HQ has clearly been well looked after, and is a Grade A listed building.

It reminded us of Le Corbusier's UN building in New York.

So... [deep breath]... right then, this isn't going to be easy... but, we have to admit it; we really like Aberdeen's favourite much-hated eyesore: St Nicholas House. we find it 'iconic'.

It is, of course absolutely true that it has seen better days, and could do with a major refurbishment. We note from Brogden's Guide that St Nicholas House was originally concieved by the City Architects Department in 1962 to be curtain-wall clad in silvered glass and steel panels. That'd be nice. Perhaps we could have a 'Silver (City) Baby, like New York's Bronze Baby - the Segram Building by Philip Johnson and Ludvig Mies van der Rohe - a building which "stands as one of the finest examples of the functionalist aesthetic and a masterpiece of corporate modernism."

So, let's reconsider the demolition of St Nicholas House - Birmingham regrets the loss of the Birmingham Post and Mail Building:

The Lever Building in New York (a similar slab and plinth building which inspired both St Nicholas House and the Birmingham Post and Mail Building) was saved in 1998.

The Amsterdam World Fashion Centre comprises several buildings which share this heritage. Looks good all day long...


Mick Miller said...

I have some sympathy with this view but believe that 'context' is all with the modernist, post-bauhaus building. What makes a building like St Nicks potentially valuable is innovation in design and materials and I'm not actually sure that St Nicks genuinely meets either criteria being, largely, a highly derivative structure with little to single it out. Overall, in the townscape that is Aberdeen it sticks out like a sore thumb and has little relation to its surrounding environs. Having said that the view from the top is spectacular and the Council missed a trick by NOT opening the former staff restaurant (on one of the top floors) to the public. It just might have endeared it more to the population of Aberdeen as a whole.

Zel said...

As someone who grew up in the 80s and 90s, the rapid demise of buildings of this style is something I find very sad. In a couple of hundred years, archaeologists are going to be utterly baffled by the fact that we seemingly didn't build anything between the 50s and the year 2000...Architecture from this period may not be exactly exciting, but it has its place, and I think that needs to be recognised.

Also as someone who has worked in St. Nix for the last six years every day, I say to people give the poor thing a break. It's a functional building which does what it was designed to do very well. As a council HQ it works very well, and while it's a bit rough around the edges I think personally could clean up really well with a bit of hard graft. A reflective glass facing in particular could look stunning, imagine the Aberdeen skyline reflected in it on a clear sunny day. That would be quite a sight.

Of course, the view from the upper floors is worthy of a mention, it is truly stunning, and I'll definitely need to get up there with my camera again before I'm moved over to Marischal College next month.

I doubt many people will miss it, but I personally will be very sad to see St. Nicholas House come down.

Nice to see someone else giving it a thought at least! Thanks!

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