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Old October 23rd, 2012, 04:46 PM   #101
ill tonkso
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Then I have to say, they aren't doing their job properly on this. I am lodging a formal opposition, the buildings on this square are some of the best in London and heavily photographed as a result.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 04:52 PM   #102
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48 Leicester Square
Townscape and Heritage Visual Impact Assessment
July 2012

Visual characteristics of the proposed development

The existing building is not listed, and is certainly not as distinguished a building architecturally as the Grade II listed Clareville House to its southwest, nor even the unlisted Thistle Piccadilly Hotel at the corner of Whitcomb Street and Coventry Street to its northwest. Its architectural character is undoubtedly compromised by its poor overall proportions, a relatively squat middle section (that contains the Giant order) and a visually cluttered, top heavy and asymmetrical roof, which dominates its form. Nonetheless, the architectural detail of the base and Giant order is well considered. The combination of the principal Portland stone rhythm of columns (some fluted) and pilasters, and striated stone base with wide openings, create a visually powerful container for the base and body of the building. The visual weight of the body on its base is relieved by the glass and bronze work that provides a secondary level of visual interest and finesse in relation to the primary frame.

As the architects’ DPAS makes clear, a range of building options was considered for the Site. These included early proposals for an entirely new building, which would read in relation to the W Hotel to its north, and would establish a strong ‘modern’ edge to the west side of the Square. However, following the initial consultation process with WCC and EH, the conclusion was reached that the existing building had external architectural elements worthy of retention, which led the team to find ways of retaining those parts of the existing façade – its principal masonry frame as high as the cornice to the Giant order – and to renew the glazing and bronze-coloured metalwork that weaves between it, which is in a poor condition. The architects found that by adding a cornice above the attic windows, so that they become the classical ‘frieze’ sandwiched between an existing lower and new upper cornice, the proportions of the middle section of the existing building would be positively transformed.

The architects considered several different roof forms that would complement the proportions of the enhanced base and would simplify its silhouette. The decision was made early on in this process to select a bronze coloration that would relate to the bronze work of the main body of the buildings and would bring it through the stonework frame to a formal resolution at the building’s top. The proposed roof will become a significant part of the new composition, and while clearly very contemporary in conception and character, it derives from a long and distinguished tradition of western architectural and urban design.

The roof of the Basilica in Vicenza, Italy, was considered to be an interesting and relevant precedent, its copper clad roof providing the locality with a strong visual focus adjacent to three piazzas. Its primary late 15th century core in Gothic (Lombardy) style, including the arched roof, was re-clad by Andrea Palladio in the mid-16th century with a double height giant loggia on three sides with two storeys of classical orders and interspersed arcade in white Istrian stone. The success of that well-known building is its fusion of Gothic and Classic architectures. The proposed roof takes its inspiration not only from the Basilica in Vicenza, but also exemplars local to Westminster, including the Western Pumping Station at Grosvenor Dock. At 48 Leicester Square the fusion would be of classical and modern design, in which the office function and the need for views out and solar shading informed the design, which will result in a unique building that will bring Leicester Square a strong identity through an appropriate combination of the best classical and modern architecture.
Thus, the roof is made up from four curving mansard-like components set parallel to each face of the building and rising from the datum set by the attic storey frieze and new pronounced cornice that surmounts it. The plan of the existing building is not strictly orthogonal, and has corners with quite different angles at its southern end. The architects have skilfully overcome the asymmetrical geometry of the plan with a roof that appears simply resolved. It will have large parallel set corner ridges that will rise from the chamfered corners of the existing building, and new corner clocks, to a horizontal summit.

The metal framework of ‘blades’ that form the proposed roof will appear solid from some viewing locations at ground level, where they will appear to overlap one another, and more open from other viewing angles, revealing the glazing between them. It will not read as a heavy form, but lattice-like: in some ways similar to the giant glazed Palais de Tokyo in Paris, and the great plant houses of Kew. However, and importantly for the specific character of the Leicester Square Conservation Area, the roof of No. 48 has grown out of the retained and enhanced architecture that supports it below and the functional needs of a 21st-century commercial building. This will be a compelling architectural synthesis that will enhance the architectural and urban reputation of Leicester Square.

The new, rationally laid out office floors within will be subsumed behind the strong architectural character of the exterior. Double height retail units at street level will be publicly accessible along the frontages on Leicester Square and Coventry Street, with mezzanine levels within, set behind the bronze-coloured glazing screens, and will extend southward along Whitcomb Street. The office entrance will be at the southwest corner of the building, and servicing will be from the south. Above this more visually permeable base of the building, newly designed bronze-coloured panels will be set between the striated stone bases to the Giant orders that define the body of the building.

Residual impacts and conclusions: architectural quality and response to context

The Proposed Development has been designed to accord with the principles and objectives of the City of Westminster’s UDP (Ref.1-9) and Core Strategy (Ref.1-10) and the Mayor of London’s London Plan (Ref.1-8). In accordance with the NPPF (Ref.1-4), the proposals will sustain and enhance the significance of the undesignated heritage asset on Site and the setting of heritage assets in the vicinity.

The Proposed Development will entail the comprehensive refurbishment of the existing building, and the enhancement of its exterior. The proposed building will provide modern, energy efficient office space and more visually permeable retail units at its base. Its external appearance will be enhanced by the restoration of the existing Portland stone cladding and window glazing and by removal of existing rooftop clutter of forms to achieve a significant and memorable building of the highest design quality. The changes will enhance the character of the local townscape and the significance of the Leicester Square Conservation Area.

The alterations to 48 Leicester Square have been designed to respond positively, in scale and mass, to the existing townscape, local conservation areas, listed buildings and undesignated heritage assets close to the Site. Likely adverse impacts have been considered throughout the design process, such that all have been mitigated though an iterative design evolution process.
The form and details of the new upper window ‘frieze and cornice, the four new corner clocks, and the unifying bronze- coloured roof have been carefully considered, in consultation with the City of Westminster and English Heritage, to complement views towards and across the Leicester Square Conservation Area. Street views will be enhanced by the increased visual permeability of the base of the building, and the location of its entrances and service area (to the south).

In the Visual Assessment, the suitability of the design of the Proposed Development in its spatial location has been assessed using 8 different viewing positions, which were selected in consultation with WCC to provide 360-degree views around the Site. These consider the impact on Leicester
Square itself and relevant views where visible from adjacent conservation areas.

The impact significance on the views, the townscape and the Leicester Square Conservation Area, in particular, is judged to be entirely beneficial. This is due to the high design quality of the design proposals to enhance the existing character of the building on Site and in the surrounding area. Taking into account the architectural and urban design quality assessed against the criteria of By Design and the sensitivity to change of the townscape, none of the likely impacts are judged to be adverse.

The Proposed Development would enhance and promote sustainable development by establishing a major development that has been conceived as an integral part of the townscape of the locality, and by enhancing the existing building on Site. The Proposed Development will create a new mixed use development with a distinctive character and sense of place, drawn from townscape and heritage analysis of the specific location of the Site, and by retaining the most valued visual characteristics of the existing building. The Proposed Development would not harm local views or the settings of townscape or heritage assets in the local area, it will enhance.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 04:52 PM   #103
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EH TWATTS.....Jeeeeeez with EH looking after our heritage god help London!!!!
Just cannot see why they need to mess with the existing form. A new tiled mansard roof and good clean and it will look as good as new, fantastic in fact. The new proposals 'cheapen' it IMO. Why do Architects feel the need to make their mark and tamper with something that is perfectly good. Keep the building 'original' and true.
Yes ill Tonkso, I will gladly e-mail too
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 04:56 PM   #104
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tellvis View Post
Why do Architects feel the need to make their mark and tamper with something that is perfectly good. Keep the building 'original' and true.
Because office clients go to developers and ask for bright, modern, airy offices in major West End locations and developers ask architects to build bright, modern, airy offices in major West End locations.

When people want to work in stuffy, dark offices with tiny windows then maybe architects might design them.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 04:59 PM   #105
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The windows are no bigger so don't pull that one on me. Clients can respect the existing streetscape, if they want a big glass box there are other places in the city they can take. There is NOTHING wrong with this building.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 05:02 PM   #106
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ill tonkso View Post
There is NOTHING wrong with this building.
There is if you take a look at the planning and access statement, which is submitted with every new development in London.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 05:05 PM   #107
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Internally yes, we are talking about the exterior here. If I am honest, the client can do one. Buildings like this in locations like this belong to London and the Londoners, not developers. It was 'needs of clients' which destroyed vast tracts of our cities in the first place. There are plenty of locations across London suited to that sort of development, this is one of the most attractive urban districts in the UK and that should be respected.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 05:29 PM   #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ill tonkso View Post
Buildings like this in locations like this belong to London and the Londoners, not developers.
Well, no. The building was owned by the AA when it was built in 1923 and extended in 1937 and 1954. The interior was mainly lost in the 1970s when they moved out and cosmetically refurbished twice in the 1980s and 90s. It cannot keep up with modern standards and its interior nearing the end of its lifespan.

To answer your questions, which are all available in the planning ands access statement, which is online and available to anyone...

1: The Bay Windows which add depth and detail to the facade.

Many are fitted poorly with no thermal break, with adddtional glazing added in the 1980s. They've been compromised and will not meet future building regulation standards.

2: The angular, pronounced roofline.

The stonework above the third cornice is in a worse condition than the 'Grand Order' columns due to being more exposed to the elements. The stone has cracked due to water corroding the steel railing at the high level. Also a lot of the detailing is inconsistent with the proposal creating a unified whole around the entire circumference of the building.

The offices currently in the mansard do not meet British Council for Offices (BCO) standards. A number of internal columns and low ceilings detract from the large and floor-to-ceiling legal requirements for modern floor plates demanded by clients. Lack of modern ventilation is also a problem. Also the roofscape consists of various forms of communications equipment which actually fall into a visual sightline corridor.

3: The Copper work on the corner clock tower which draws the eye towards the clock itself.

There was intention to keep this and simply remove the workings of the roof mansard, however in doing so by inserting new floor plates above the mid-office floors would clash with elements of the existing facade, nor would these corners receive daylight or views out.

There were several variations of the domed roof explored, but eventually this design was proposed as respecting the character of the structure and the viewing corridor.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 05:55 PM   #109
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If we weren't so wet about every mediocre old building, then this could have been knocked down and have something really impressive replace it, instead of this hybrid. A very good hybrid nonetheless.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 06:19 PM   #110
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Here's the link to the planning documents (scroll down for the design and access parts) for 48 Leicester Square:

http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/onl...=M818M0RPZ5000

Some initial ideas for the roof:



Last edited by RMB2007; October 23rd, 2012 at 06:26 PM.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 06:34 PM   #111
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 08:39 PM   #112
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It's a beautiful building which will sadly be butchered. Why do EH fight towers a waste millions of tax payers money but do nothing about buildings like this?!
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 09:15 PM   #113
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Make are not heritage architects and have butchered an interesting building in London. I actually like the fact its been altered and changed over the years. I don't see the building as a failure architecturally either like some of the heritage snobs. I understand developers like to show they have done something to a building but again they have missed the point that the existing roof actually look's really good.

Here's another masterpiece by the architects in Hanover Square here they prove their skill at making a portland stone box add some flimsy art concept some bronze and windows cut out in a slightly random nature but scaled to the Georgian architecture opposite. Admittedly the building it's replacing here is not great but this is not exactly a massive improvement.
Why they get so much work alludes me.
http://www.bdonline.co.uk/news/make-...044617.article
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 09:23 PM   #114
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamer View Post
Why do EH fight towers a waste millions of tax payers money but do nothing about buildings like this?!
Still a bit confused to why people think EH have done nothing, they've been working with MAKE since the beginning of this project identifying parts of the structure deemed worthy of saving. They're all for the removal of the top element what with it being in the state it is in and the random communications masts on the top falling within the conservation sightline.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 09:27 PM   #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delores View Post
Here's another masterpiece by the architects in Hanover Square here they prove their skill at making a portland stone box add some flimsy art concept some bronze and windows cut out in a slightly random nature but scaled to the Georgian architecture opposite. Admittedly the building it's replacing here is not great but this is not exactly a massive improvement.
Why they get so much work alludes me.
http://www.bdonline.co.uk/news/make-...044617.article
The before and after for that project:



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Old October 23rd, 2012, 09:28 PM   #116
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They have just come up with a laundry list of things about the building that aren’t worth keeping on their own, but failed to see how they add to the building as a whole. They have thus taken away much of what gives the buildings its character and generally made a right hash of it.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 09:40 PM   #117
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarJoLe View Post
Still a bit confused to why people think EH have done nothing, they've been working with MAKE since the beginning of this project identifying parts of the structure deemed worthy of saving. They're all for the removal of the top element what with it being in the state it is in and the random communications masts on the top falling within the conservation sightline.
And inturn have erased more history. Make's scheme is too clunky and overbearing, the delicacy of the dormer windows, the loss of the corner turret have made this building more ordinary than something attractive.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 09:42 PM   #118
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RMB2007 View Post
The before and after for that project:



Can you imagine how an architect like Quinlan Terry would of approached this with real understanding of heritage scale and ornament which this building has sadly shown no real understanding at all.
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Old October 24th, 2012, 11:02 AM   #119
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It's nice!!!
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Old October 24th, 2012, 12:37 PM   #120
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English Heritage are unfortunately another grossly negligent quango that need to undergo an extensive restructuring to reflect that skyscrapers aren't the problem; it's the destruction of the urban realm which they have neglected.
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