Saturday, 2 April 2011

Marischal College - second look.

Aberdeen City Council are due to move into the famous Marischal College building later this year when the building will become their new corporate headquarters. The building has been completely re-developed with an entirely new interior but 'reconditioned' frontages retained as part of the multi-million pound conversion of the site. The scaffolding came off the frontage back in January and after we'd been to see it we wrote about our concerns. We thought that the re-conditioning of the frontage stonework didn't look great.

Since then, we've heard that the poor blotchy condition of the granite surfaces of the apparently botched reconditioning of the Aberdeen's famous Marischal College frontage was merely part of the 'bedding in' of the cleaned stone. Hmm... Since then, we've read that the anomalous marks evident on parts of the stone facings - which looked like burns, scuffs and stains - were scaffolding marks which had now been remediated. Hmmmmm...

Burnt, blotchy, stained and scuffed
Well, it was a bright day yesterday, and there had been a dry spell of weather, so we went along and stood and had a good long look. Unfortunately, no amount of emperor's-new-clothes wising-it-were-not-so can make us ignore the blotches, the burns, the scuffs, the uneven finish and the horrifying patchy yellowing which is evident. We are horrified.

 Apparently - and this is hearsay, the source of which we can't even remember, so take it as such - Historic Scotland advised Aberdeen City Council against cleaning of the frontage, fearing the outcome would be the unsatisfactory result which we now have. Nevertheless, the work was done, we hear, at the urging of the then but since-departed council chief executive. Unfortunately we must bear the heartbreaking results. The best we can say about it is: "it could be worse."

From a distance, or if you're passing through Broad Street in a vehicle, it looks OK-ish. Perhaps that's all that matters to whoever wrote the specification or managed the job on site. We prefer to take a slower, measured and more contemplative and up-close approach to our life within the urban realm, and it is this unhurried and ruminative attitude which has allowed us to notice problems at Marischal. We say that the standard of the work at Marischal is a scandal. We all should be outraged. But it seems we are at variance with the times, for when we try to discuss this issue with our fellow townsfolk, very few of them seem to have noticed. Or if they have, they deny that it's an issue.

Discoloured, patchy. 

Discoloured, uneven, stained, blotchy 
Blotchy, discoloured.

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