Friday, 14 November 2014

In praise of BDP and the Buchanan Quarter

BDP's magnificent proposal to replace the Yes Steps at Glasgow Concert Hall
BDP's magnificent proposal to replace the
'Yes Steps' at Glasgow Concert Hall
You know, I was stimulated beyond my wildest dreams when I read about BDP's proposals for the Buchanan Quarter in Glasgow. This isn't just a quarter - it's at least two thirds or maybe more! When I first saw it I thought I had died and gone to heaven - such is its magnificence! It's a fantastic concrete cash register and just the job for the plebs and jakies of Glasgow.

Now Buchanan Galleries is a great development already but this improves it by a quantum leap - it's like finding a Mars Bar in your glove box when you thought you only had a small piece of chewing gum!

Just by way of a bit of background, BDP were once known as Building Design Partnership - and very well respected they once were in architectural circles. But in 1997 they wisely decided to give up the partnership idea and became a proper limited company so that they could split the profit between the owners rather than sharing it with the staff who don't matter anyway. Naked greed is always a sensible choice in my opinion.

One of BDP's most famous buildings is Preston Bus Station - a 1960s concrete behemoth held in high esteem by the public and was regarded as the best building in Preston. After their move into the land of capitalism and profit, BDP were active in efforts to demolish the bus station but failed miserably. Unfortunate.

Anyway, this proposal for Buchanan Galleries will certainly get the sound of cash registers clattering out from the top of Buchanan Street. The £300m project will attempt to knit the giant mall into the surrounding urban fabric and transport infrastructure. The principal feature is a new ‘Rotunda’ at the head of Buchanan Street - it's a magnificent proposal. 
Civic space will be removed - quite right
Civic space will be removed - quite right

At a stroke it completely wipes out the Glasgow Concert Hall steps which became a Yes Campaign rallying point during the Independence Referendum. Glasgow City Council have obviously requested that these steps be removed for political reasons and replaced with a glass tube. This is very sensible as civic spaces have no place in the serious business of retail activity - have they? BDP are to be congratulated on this decisive moment in the history of Scottish civic spaces - they have proved that servant architects and compliance with local political will trumps integrity every time.

You know it's so refreshing to see the work of architects who have absolutely no principles, conscience or concern for public opinion - or any distinguishing abilities or competence in design or planning. It means that they can focus on serving their clients, bending over that drawing board and returning a good old profit. Personally I love it and I have nothing but the highest praise for this project which must rank as one of my Projects of 2014!  It's like one of those mouthwashes you see on television - totally refreshing!

BDP have recently picked up some consultancy work in Aberdeen for the City Council and to me this means only one thing. Local authorities have finally realised that design and plaicemaking don't actually matter at all! All these highfalutin ideas about connectivity and public realm are just the dried up old spiders' webs of a profession in decline! Clearly BDP have cornered the market in obsequious toadying and client compliance and for this they earn a very large gold star and a big tick in my little black book.

All the best from Auchterness - I'll be back soon with more exciting insight into the world of town planning. Cheeriebye for now!

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