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it kinda fits in well seeing it from that side, with the very straight lines of buildings around it, and the ultimate in geometric blocks, Lanyon Plaza, poking up above it. Guess it just highlights the shame that the curves and beauty* of the Waterfront is now entombed, only viewable as slices and slivers through spaces and paths. Such is progress I guess

*beholder's eye and all that
 

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I think its a £30m catastrophe. I fully support the need for additonal conference space, but for the money being invested, in one of Belfasts most prominant buildings it really does look disgusting.

The only thing that could save it is to doing something extremelly creative with the lighting and only look at it in the dark.
 

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I grimaced a little seeing the grey plastic panelling sneaking up... have made known my feelings on the chintzy coloured panels on places right next door like the Soloist and, worse, Lanyon Place... It's lazy and going to other cities, seeing those buildings with similar looks aren't massively inspiring. There's some weird choices for the smaller window frames - like oversized frames for a house, that are a surprise. Thought they'd be throwing up way more windowage than there is.

Anyway, it's all set in stone (and clad in grey plastic :p) now so we'll see... hopefully like you said, and the renders showed, there's some cool lighting on the front to bring it to life at night.
 

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This was an opportunity to improve the Waterfront Hall. What we are left with is a whopping big wall with a scattering of oddly placed windows, which has now obscured any decent view of the Waterfront Hall that remained.

Obviously the designer of the extension has never visited or seen pictures or plans of the Waterfront Hall. I can only assume this because there seems to be absolutely no cohesion with the original design at all.

The bit beside the original glass facade, where the two buildings "join" is awful. You would have thought that it might have been sensible idea to use the same, or similar glass and at least try to blend the buildings into each other.

When you see the original proposals for the extension, you realise what could have been, and what an eyesore we've been left with!
 

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Was looking at the wikipedia page for Belfast (don't ask why... actually, ok, it's not that weird but anyway) and I saw a panorama. If you go there you'll notice the backside of the Odyssey... and it hit me that it look strikingly similar... {flat slab of grey at the back}

Seeing these buildings every day surrounding my work in the Laganside area I have to say it's all been very diappointing. From the overly dark and brooding Soloist to the Lanyon's poor facade cladding (And lest we forget UNFINISHED STILL) to a bit of a sea change of opinion on the Waterfront extension... it's why I harp on about the aspects I do because I have, if you haven't, seen the first hand daily disappointing finished articles of recently buildings that should be stunning breathes of fresh air...
 

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Will reserve final judgement until the cladding is up, but I agree it seems very disappointing especially with regard to how it meets the old building. If only someone could have organised a whip round to find enough money to make it look like the original artist's impressions!
 

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I think the previous render was merely illustrative and when it came to the actual design and space needs the sexy curved design was impractical. I can't stress enough how much space an exhibition centre needs to have.

It's not an attractive extension but I'm reserving final judgement until it's complete.

While it may be unattractive it was absolutely essential and the return for Belfast in terms of conference income and wider economic benefit will be impressive, the investment will pay for itself within a few years.

So yes it's a shame to lose the view of the curved frontage, although the terracotta section was rather hideous anyway IMO, and I agree that 'link' with the existing planar glass is horrific and lazy this is an essential investment and asset. So while I'm annoyed by the final design I am pleased we have it and in fairness, it's not bad as modern exhibition centres go. Just look at Liverpool's new exhibition centre, incredibly uninspiring. That's not to excuse lazy or unattractive design but just a comparison.
 

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I just think the Waterfront Hall is one of Belfast's most prominent buildings, certainly in terms of marketing the City as a place to visit. It needs to look attractive and well designed.

It just looks half-baked idea, like anything will do, which could well be the impression it sends out to visitors and investors that come to Belfast. I'm not asking for the Sydney opera house.

I'm also now less certain of why the conference space had to be added to the side of the Waterfront. We are going to have 2 separate buildings offering conference facilities in TQ and there are still plenty of unsightly car parks all over Belfast CC waiting to be filled in. Why the need to destroy what was a decent building? They could have reclad it for a fraction of the cost and made it look first class.
 

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Discussion Starter #52
I'm also now less certain of why the conference space had to be added to the side of the Waterfront. We are going to have 2 separate buildings offering conference facilities in TQ and there are still plenty of unsightly car parks all over Belfast CC waiting to be filled in. Why the need to destroy what was a decent building? They could have reclad it for a fraction of the cost and made it look first class.
The Waterfront needed refurbishment, and there was a chunk of EU development funding available that was due to expire if it went unspent. So basically, Belfast City Council decided to combine the need for a new conference centre with a refurbishment of the Waterfront. The EU funds meant that the Council didn't have to spend as much on the project, but it also means that a solution had to be found quickly before the funding window expired.

As far as I know, the preferred location for a conference centre was to be at Sirocco, but when the developer went bust the City Council decided to do it themselves. In other words, this was definitely a compromise solution.

The TQ exhibition centre will cater to large exhibitions, which is a very different market to conferences. What's the second facility in TQ that you mentioned?

I think the Waterfront extension could still look decent in the end, but the mismatched glazing doesn't inspire confidence :eek:hno:
 

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I just think the Waterfront Hall is one of Belfast's most prominent buildings, certainly in terms of marketing the City as a place to visit. It needs to look attractive and well designed.

It just looks half-baked idea, like anything will do, which could well be the impression it sends out to visitors and investors that come to Belfast. I'm not asking for the Sydney opera house.
Couldn't have said it better!

I think they've scored a massive own goal. They had a prime piece of land overlooking the Lagan and attached to one of Belfast's most iconic, recognisable buildings.

A well designed extension, which complimented the Waterfront and made the most of the location would undoubtedly have been a marketing tool in itself and could have been used to attract big name conferences and impress investors.

But as Not Tall Enough says, it looks like a half-baked idea which doesn't send out a good signal at all. Not to mention that it has pretty much spoiled the Waterfront Hall.

Also, I only recently noticed that this monstrosity was created by Todd Architects, the same group behind the Titanic Visitors Centre. I can only assume that they gave the Waterfront extension project to someone who was on work experience with them!!

Oh well, we're stuck with it now. Can the general public submit nominations for the Carbuncle Cup?
 

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What's the second facility in TQ that you mentioned?
The Titanic Museum has conference and exhibition facilities on the top floor and rooms on the floor below. I'm not sure how they will compare to the Waterfront in Size.

Sirocco would have been ideal as they really need to start getting some development work started on these sites. I think with the benefit hindsight lending developers so much money to purchase large chunks of land for development was a bad idea.
 

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Titanic doesn't have the space to accommodate thousands of delegates, no where in Belfast had the modern hosting facilities to cater for largest conferences that we can now secure. Major conferences are absolute beasts in terms of numbers and the supporting facilities required. I'm assisting with one which will be the first in the new extension and that'll have about 1500 people, we couldn't have hosted that without this extension. The planned temporary facility in TQ is more for exhibitions such as car shows and so on, same with the proposal for The Maze, neither are being designed to host massive conferences.

thevanishin is spot on though, the EU funds for the project were about to expire and couldn't be allocated to anything else. I'm sure if more time was available and certain circumstances were in place we would have had a dedicated and purpose-built separate facility or at least an extension to the Waterfront that looked better, reality came into play and alas this is the design we have.

To be blunt for a moment, I arrange conferences and I've arranged them in other cities such as Copenhagen and Nantes and the organisers nor delegates care what the building looks like externally, what matters is the interior and what the supporting facilities are in terms of audio/visual, spaces, capacity and supplementary meeting/breakout rooms. It's a bonus if the building is pretty, but not many are.

Unfortunately we will have a 'ruined' Waterfront in terms of aesthetics and those that live in Belfast have to see it but in terms of conferences it's a major asset which is already delivering economic benefits in terms of a new drive for hotel construction and already confirmed events.
 

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thevanishin is spot on though, the EU funds for the project were about to expire and couldn't be allocated to anything else. I'm sure if more time was available and certain circumstances were in place we would have had a dedicated and purpose-built separate facility or at least an extension to the Waterfront that looked better, reality came into play and alas this is the design we have.
Even if the time constraints were influential, I find it hard to believe that no one could have come up with a better design - or at least one which complimented the hall better.

From looking at the plans and images of the current monstrosity, it's clear that SOME time and thought went into its design. In fact, at one point, concept images of the current monstrosity showed different cladding altogether (which looked better, but still didn't fit in with the hall) and a different window layout (which looked better than the current hodge podge) - so there was obviously time to make amendments and changes.

I'm sure something of similar appearance to the office buildings attached onto the Obel tower would have been fairly easy to plan and design in a short space of time. It might have been boring, but at least it would have blended in a little better with the hall and surrounding buildings.

In reality... it's a poor piece of design and no amount of excuses is going to cover that up.

To be blunt for a moment, I arrange conferences and I've arranged them in other cities such as Copenhagen and Nantes and the organisers nor delegates care what the building looks like externally, what matters is the interior and what the supporting facilities are in terms of audio/visual, spaces, capacity and supplementary meeting/breakout rooms. It's a bonus if the building is pretty, but not many are.
I think you're underestimating the value of building aesthetics (on a skyscraper forum of all places!). If someone has to make a decision on two similar conference facilities at similar prices, then aesthetics are going to play a part.

I know in the past that when looking to rent office premises, I've immediately skipped past some awful looking buildings, solely on the basis that it's not something that would impress potential clients. (A slightly different scenario from choosing a conference venue, I know, but the principles are still the same!)
 

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I think you're underestimating the value of building aesthetics (on a skyscraper forum of all places!). If someone has to make a decision on two similar conference facilities at similar prices, then aesthetics are going to play a part.

I know in the past that when looking to rent office premises, I've immediately skipped past some awful looking buildings, solely on the basis that it's not something that would impress potential clients. (A slightly different scenario from choosing a conference venue, I know, but the principles are still the same!)

I appreciate that, but most people beyond those that have an interest in architecture pay little to no attention to such things. It's shocking what shite some people are happy to see built. Conference organisers are there for a few days and away again, tenants for new office buildings are there for a long time and the office exterior is their 'shop window' for clients, as you say aesthetics is an important aspect when choosing a new office.

I'm not excusing the design, I think it's clumsy, lazy and unattractive personally, but just giving an organisers perspective in a sort of devil's advocate way.
 

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Discussion Starter #58
This has got me thinking about whether I have ever seen a well-designed extension to a round building.

I can't think of any, never mind any good ones. Surely someone somewhere has done a good job of it...
 

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Are there actually official stats and figures on conferences, the ones that have been held, attendenee numbers, money, etc?

Cos it's all hand waving from down here (and I say that as someone who WANTS to see lots of solid proof for it and think "yay Belfast")

Chat about winning conferences, and the associated trickle down (out?) economics of them and the boost it brings to the city but again wish there was some hard facts around this... cos I can't help but feel the hotel bars are seeing most of the deleagtes' cash (or expense account cards) rather than the Hudson or Whites... but I'm always just cynacil about the promises of the economic windfalls of these sorts of things :p


What can't be argued with, or found wanting for evidence, is a very interesting aspect (And nice terracota cladding - something a bit different and nice) is gone.

It was a unique building. Clamping add-ons and upgrades to each side ... this kills the beauty, what little, or much, it had.

I still can't wait to stand up on the top floor and look at from that glass corner over Belfast... ;)
 
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