Saturday, 2 November 2013

The mirage of Washington Exchange

Washington ExchangeYou know, I was down in Glasgow during the week at another of these important meetings where I find it quite hard to stay awake. Dreary women droning on about KPIs, picking their noses then ferreting about in the plates of sandwiches and biscuits. Disgusting! One hatchet-faced harridan stared at me for most of the meeting - perhaps it was my green corduroy suit and my purple shirt. By early afternoon I was anxious to leave and made my excuses. I had an appointment with something wonderful.

I rushed down Hope Street and crossed Argyle Street heading for the magnificent International Financial Services District or IFSD as we planners call it. It's a part of the city that used to be a slum - like everywhere else - but has stepped up to the plate in recent years and provides many of the riches that are typical of a Scottish Enterprise led development. This isn't surprising since almost all of the country's thought leaders have worked for SE over the years - I know I have.

Anyway, one of my readers recently pointed me in the direction of a fabulous new development called Washington Exchange - a name redolent wth profit, exclusiveness, success and rich clever people. Sir Ewen Jamieson of Clydeport has his offices near there where he can oversee all the goings on in the River Clyde as huge liners tie up and smaller vessels potter happily around them - Sir Ewen of course is the power behind Glasgow Harbour, one of my all-time favourite developments, and he is truly one of the world's most gifted, cultured and intelligent people.

Now while Aberdeen is very much the economic and cultural capital of Scotland it's important that other places such as the slums of Glasgow get a slice of the cake. So when I saw the photies of this development on Urban Realm I was delighted for the city. I don't know who the architects were but this is something that has Keppies name written all over it or perhaps Halliday Fraser Munro. It wouldn't surprise me if Big John had had his pencil out and dashed off a quick one on the riverbank.
Washington Exchange
However I am disappointed to say that I couldn't find the new development. I asked around and showed some Buckfast Boys the photies from Urban Realm but they said it was just a drawing. Slowly it dawned on me that what I was looking at were the most wonderful and realistic artist's impressions I have ever seen in my life. I was completely taken in by their incredible accuracy and attention to detail.

I felt such a fool as I wandered disconsolately along the river bank with my shoes covered in dog mess. I threw the drawings into a litter bin that was overflowing with ginger cans and juice bottles and walked slowly back to Queen Street Station. You see, even an expert planner can be taken in by a pretty picture. I still wish to congratulate the movers and players, stakeholders and client account executives, artists and quantity surveyors who created this gem. It gets a silver star in my little black book and the sooner it is built the better.

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