The Worlds Best New Tall Building is Broadcasting Place, the 23 storey building completed last year on the site of the old BBC Broadcasting House at the bottom of Woodhouse Lane, and its rusty already.
On the other hand its supposed to be rusty, just like Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North its built (or at least clad) with steel panels that are allowed to weather naturally, indeed they were already rusty as they started to clad the building with them last year and many an eyebrow was raised and such thoughts muttered out loud as “Surely something is wrong here ?”.
I love it, its front elevation shows its solid wall of rust to the south and at this time of year on a cold clear day the winter sun illuminates the orange textured panels right through the day and as its in a slightly elevated location as you leave the city centre with low buildings all around it appears to be much taller than its mere 23 storeys suggest.
In the 1970s when I first started work in the construction industry the practice was to clad buildings with plastic panels, in the 1970s if you wanted to create this effect you would first of all not have offset the angle of some of the floors to give another interesting and variable effect, for 1970s architecture was all about solid two dimensional elevations, a single face that could easily be drawn on the architects board, and the building would have been clad in orange plastic panels, panels that would by now look shabby and faded and would certainly have been replaced with a compromised look as many of the 1970s buildings in Leeds have been – or indeed demolished by now.
Indeed on the first day that I started work at the electrical contractors, sharpened pencil at the ready, I learned that the business was under threat of legal action that would have closed us down if we had been found guilty of causing the Summerland Leisure Complex fire in 1973 in which 50 people died due in the main to the buildings plastic cladding panels not being very fireproof, in fact not being fireproof at all, but for a while the spectre of “electrical fault” haunted the future of the company until the architects folly was revealed – cladding buildings in pretty looking but bitumen and acrylic based cladding panels does not seem like a good idea now does it ?
And yet I appear to be the only person that actually likes Broadcasting Place, as k anyone for their opinion and they will invariably respond with “But its so rusty”, well, yes, thats sort of the point though, its supposed to be rusty, “Well I don’t like it because its rusty” is the usual summary of opinion.
Maybe we should promote it as an art installation, our own Angel of the North, which was also greeted with “Well its bloody rusty” when it was first erected but which now stands as a proud symbol to the North East, maybe more of us need to appreciate rust a little more ?