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Rooftop extension to bring new gravitas to Victorian offices

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May 1 2019

Rooftop extension to bring new gravitas to Victorian offices

McGinlay Bell Architects have stepped up to the challenge of converting a vacant Victorian office building for modern office use with proposals for a dramatic rooftop extension in the heart of Glasgow’s CBD.

This would see a B-listed building on the corner of Renfield and St Vincent Street extruded upward by an additional two floors behind precast concrete columns erupting from the existing blond sandstone façade.

At the same time, accessibility and service improvements would be conducted internally including a redesigned entrance area to match the aesthetic of the rooftop extension.

Detailing their approach the practice wrote: “The detail of the new element of the extended façade is heavily influenced by the rhythmical and rational nature of the existing massing. McGinlay Bell has turned to precast elements, pigmented to match the existing stone for the external skin of the new element, which reinforces the building's connection to the context.

“The choice of pre-cast as a material is driven by the stone city and is a key way to giving some meaning and memory to the new element. The pre-cast has a texture, is traditional, timeless, simple, authentic, economical and a well ageing material.”

If permitted the work would deliver 2,300sq/m of grade A office space.


call me a BOF, but
#1 Posted by call me a BOF, but on 1 May 2019 at 16:48 PM
at least that was a quick read as manifestos go. Thanks for the tutorial. (I'd lose the corporate font for prose text, by the way. It's excruciating). Not sure as to the purpose of all those discombobulated images? Dig the quantum corner 'detail' drawing C[28] 003! Which is it to be? What's with the Deco chevron motif? Are we to know? And re internal accessibility, I just wondered if you have heard of the DDA Act 2010? Best of luck. Other than that, can't complain.

Sue Pearman
#2 Posted by Sue Pearman on 1 May 2019 at 21:13 PM
This looks promising. Visually it could handle another couple of floors but presumably the existing structure can't accommodate it.
The Flâneur
#3 Posted by The Flâneur on 2 May 2019 at 09:17 AM
#1 I agree with your point re the discombobulated images. Supplying an image of every single corner building up St Vincent and Renfield Streets really doesn’t tell us an awful lot about why the architects arrived at their proposed solution. Rather it is just noise. A few case studies of attic storey extensions in Glasgow might have been more informative as there are very few successful ones worth emulating.

As for the quantum corner 'detail' on drawing C[28] 003, perhaps I’m reading too much into it but my hunch is that this is a reference to the complex corner junction on the upper storey of Charles Wilson’s Sansovino-esque Royal Faculty of Procurators just one block over to the east and up to the north at the entrance of Nelson Mandela Place. The problem is that the architects version on St Vincent Street is similar but shorn of the detail which gives the Royal Faculty of Procurators its joy. They were doing ok with the firmness and commodity part of the triumvirate but they seem to have forgotten the delight…

And that is the nub of this for what they have produced isn’t a piece of architecture rather it is a diagram which badly needs some flesh put on the bones. An under detailed two storey plank of pre-cast concrete serving as a pilaster is going to look really dull in contrast to James Thomson’s delicately ornamented four storeys directly below with their giant order of Corinthian pilasters. Meanwhile, the proportions of the subsidiary pilastrade look too chunky while the cornice is far too thin to convincingly terminate the extension against the sky.

Therefore, once more, with feeling please!

If it helps give any clues, it may be worth having a look at how others have handled a contemporary take on classicism in a sensitive setting. For instance, off the top of my head, Machado Silvetti ’s sensitive Scarpa-esque interventions around the Getty Villa in Los Angeles.
call me a BOF, but
#4 Posted by call me a BOF, but on 2 May 2019 at 12:15 PM
#3 - Agreed. My point re the symptomatic corner detail was a good deal more straightforward without reading anything into it other than what is before my eyes. - The plan drawn does not marry the 3D illustration above it and these two are on the same drawing! I mean its a corner FFS - one of the very things that architects are supposed to seriously consider! This kinda punctures M B B M's balloon of a DS a bit don't it? As you suggest, with such a simple architectural approach, maybe a bit more sculptural finesse would have been more fruitful and convincing? Furthermore, given the architects best of intentions, if I was a contractor, I could easily butcher this proposal and an opportunity for real delight would be wasted. So, as you suggest, it would be in their interests to get some flesh on dem bones soon as, otherwise it could end up looking like one of those lumpen 80's jobs in the city of which there are plenty. I wish them well.
The Flâneur
#5 Posted by The Flâneur on 2 May 2019 at 13:21 PM
#4 - Thanks for the heads up. Just scrolled down the drawing (I could only see the Iso on my screen) and you are right. Plan and Isometric don’t tally. For a firm who appear to pride themselves on their ability to simply and economically convey an idea that is a bit of a glaring error...

Having taken a gander at their website, I appreciate that the elegant understated approach they deploy for interiors may work well, but scaling that up and translating it to an exterior is going to be tough.

While what they are proposing may look reasonable in a small scale sketch, in full scale reality it is going to look seriously malnourished against such a rich St Vincent Street backdrop particularly opposite Miller’s stupendous Bank of Scotland. Good luck to them though…

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