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Keppie’s arena plan gets a kicking

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January 27 2006

The master plan for the mixed-use development around the new National Arena next to the SECC has come under heavy criticism from the design review panel of Architecture and Design Scotland. The plan, by Keppie Design, is intended to integrate Sir Norman Foster’s new arena building into a complex of arrival square, casino/hotel, residential development with local facilities and car parking. However, the design panel had several criticisms of the master plan. Although the panel was critical of some aspects of Foster’s design for the arena, such as “a poor relationship” between the ground floor foyer and the major public space, it reserved its ire for the overall layout of the proposed buildings.

The panel, which included Brian Evans, Karen Anderson, Eelco Hooftman, Rob Joiner, Eleanor McAllister and Ric Russell, raised aesthetic concerns about “the scale of the major public space and whether it would be welcoming” and “the quality of the public realm”. The thrust of the criticism, however, was directed at the circulation of transport and pedestrians throughout the site. It emerged that the SECC had approached the BBC to see if their site on the opposite bank of the Clyde could be used during periods of peak demand.
Criticising the design team for not having employed a landscape architect, the panel indicated that the potential for problems with transport in the master plan threatened the financial viability of the project. Potential casino operators and hoteliers would not be drawn to a scheme where parking and circulation was so problematic, it said. The master plan proposes the consolidation of parking to the east end of the site in order to release land to the west for a residential sustainable village, which was one element of the scheme that was given cautious approval by the panel .

The SECC insisted that the master plan was incomplete. when viewed by A+DS. “The client had to wait until the Arena design was completed - to establish its scale and location relative to the other buildings - before a brief was issued,This brief has now been issued and its intention is to harmonise and link three separate buildings and the large public space” said an SECC spokesperson.

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