Leading architect calls for Royal Concert Hall steps to be protected in Buchanan Galleries demolition

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Professor Alan Dulop has asked for assurance that the Royal Concert Hall steps will not be lost in the Buchanan Galleries demolition.

A leading architect has called for the steps of the Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall to be protected from demolition plans.

Professor Alan Dunlop wants assurances the Concert Hall steps will not disappear amid plans to pull down Buchanan Galleries.

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Developer and site owner Landsec hope to replace the 23-year-old flagship shopping mall with a £800million net zero mixed-use neighbourhood.

The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Designed by Leslie Martin, the architect behind London’s Royal Festival Hall, the concert hall opened in 1990 as part of Glasgow’s year as European City of Culture.

The steps which also feature a statue of the inaugural First Minister of Scotland Donald Dewar became a popular meeting place.

But the plans had proposed for a new gathering space to be created to the south of the shopping centre extension with the statue moved a few yards from its present location.

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Prof Dunlop, visiting professor at Robert Gordon University’s Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, said the steps must be protected.

He said: “The Buchanan Galleries are very popular and the building accommodates massive car parking provision to the north of the city centre, which would be missed.

“The galleries have helped secure Glasgow’s claim to be a leading shopping destination.

“However, I have no love for the building and none at all for Glasgow’s stab at a post modern future.

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“I would not object to its demolition providing something better takes its place but it has to be more than a decent design.

“The idea to open up a direct entrance to Queen Street station and the underground was first proposed by David Page in the 1980’s, so not a new suggestion.

“However, what is fundamental and has made a significant contribution and positive addition to the urban fabric of the city centre are the Concert Hall steps.

“They have become a meeting place and lunchtime destination for Glaswegians, almost by accident.

People gather there regularly.

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“They should not be demolished and said so in 2015, when a scheme for the demolition galleries was first mooted.

“The same concerns would apply to any new proposals.”

Proposals are set to go to a public consultation next Thursday.

It comes seven years after a previous project which would have seen the shopping mall double in size at a cost of £400m while removing the Concert Hall steps, was shelved.

The proposals received more than 300 letters of objection and a petition against the demolition of the steps garnered around 14,000 signatures.

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Landsec said the concept was different from previous plans and said the future of the Concert Hall steps ‘will be informed by the community consultation process’.

Developers have been working with the city council on the rethink to create new city centre region with shops, offices and homes - but detailed plans are not yet available.

Proposals were to include building a concrete raft over the railway line cutting into Queen Street Station for extra public space or a building.

While still at the concept stage, proposals for the Galleries were to be delivered over 10 years from next year.

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It was estimated that over 850 construction jobs could be created each year during the build phase leading to over 9,500 permanent jobs for the city centre.

The council, which says it is working with the developers, has said that the project will give the opportunity to ‘improve the area around the Concert Hall steps’.

A Landsec spokesperson said: “Increasing the overall amount of open and accessible public spaces is a key priority for this development.

“The future of the Royal Concert Hall steps will be informed by the community consultation process.

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“Landsec’s vision for Buchanan Galleries is to replace the existing mall with a new, sustainable net zero, mixed-use urban district.

“This would transform the area by introducing flexible buildings and additional public space designed for retail, hospitality, business and residential use to meet the changing needs of local people, visitors, businesses, and the wider city.”

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