Monday, 17 January 2011

First Look - Marischal College

A heartbreaking few minutes spent looking at the reconditioned frontage of Marischal College on saturday, now that the scaffolding has been struck. The Marishal College building is being re-developed as a new headquarters for Aberdeen City Council.

Looks OK from a distance...
But it seems that Greyfriars has been left untouched,
contrasting nastily with the Marischal frontage.

Moss, lichen and grubby filth on Greyfriars spire
detracts somewhat from the newly-reconditioned Marischal frontage.

Actually, the closer you get, the nastier the Marischal frontage looks.  
Mmmm. The more you look - the nastier, blotchier, more stained and uneven it looks.
Something's wrong.

Blotchy. Patchy. Uneven finish.

Stained, burned(?), blotchy. 
Stained, burned(?), blotchy, scuffed, scratched, uneven, patchy.
Earlier in the year, Aberdeen City Council's Enterprise Planning and Infrastructure Committee slashed £2.5 million from the Marischal College redevelopment project's contingency budget. The funds were re-assigned to the Aberdeen roads budget, following the harsh winter which had caused issues with the 'state of the roads'. Oops.

We pretend no expertise in these matters, but we really hope that what we've pictured above is just an intermediate stage, and that when the contractors leave the site, these issues will be resolved. We've noted similar issues at other sites around town.

On the council website, this update was published earlier in the spring:
Marischal College's stunning "new" look is being gradually revealed as refurbishment work on the landmark building continues.
While McAlpine carries out the construction work on Aberdeen City Council's new corporate headquarters, Glasgow-based LaserClean is steadily restoring the stonework to its former glittering glory.
The face of the grey granite building was steadily blackened over the years as carbon deposits polluting the air took their toll. But the listed building's true colour, which has never been seen by many Aberdonians, is being revealed by the cleaning work.
About 40% of that cleaning work has now been completed and decorative features which were barely discernable in the grime, including the leopard's heads which protrude from the Broad Street walls, are now clearly visible.
Marischal College Advisory and Monitoring Board convenor and council leader John Stewart said: "The difference in the colour of the granite as the cleaning work progresses is really quite striking. It is hard to believe that what most of us know as an almost black building will soon be a light grey granite again, sparkling in the sun and once again reminding locals and visitors why Aberdeen is known as the Granite City.
"Marischal College will look quite spectacular once the work has been completed, not least because of its dramatic change in colour restoring the stonework to its former glory."
Hmm. "Stunning new look", "dramatic change in colour".

Yeah, but we don't think it was meant to be brown and yellow.


Johanna said...

Have you gone back now, that the building is totally finished and the brickwork is dry???

The reason it looks blotchy was when you took the photos, it had not long finished raining and the facia was drying out, hence it being blotchy....

Other Aberdeen said...

@ Johanna.

Anonymous said...

Do you know if there is a better cleaning process that leaves the stonework unblemished and pristine? The working is old and even though granite it becomes irreversibly damaged over time. The cleaning process is intended to improve the look rather than restore to exact 1906 condition. The alternative is not to clean - which seems to be what you are saying is preferable - ie 2009 condition is an improvement in hindsight.

Other Aberdeen said...

@ Anonymous. We've already published our radical iconoclastic preference with regard to the granite crisis - here, have a look: