Belfast Telegraph

BBC urged to keep the historical character of building during revamp

By Staff Reporters

The president of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) said it is important that the BBC retains the historical character of the listed building when it undergoes its £77m revamp.

The proposal for work on the 77-year-old building was unveiled by the BBC last month.

Further details will be announced "in due course," a spokeswoman said.

The plans have also been welcomed by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS), which described the Ormeau Avenue site as one of just two purpose-built 'architecturally branded' BBC buildings left in the UK.

The BBC has said the project will ensure the long-term sustainability of the building and address what the state broadcaster says are "critical deficiencies".

It will also see the facilities at the site updated, giving it the "best infrastructure and technologies" for audiences' needs.

But Paul Crowe, president of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA), has urged those involved in the decision-making to "put design quality to the fore" and ensure any new elements complement the historical character of the existing building.

He said: "Broadcasting House is one of Belfast's landmark buildings and its architectural style adds to the character of the city.

"The BBC's decision to stay put and invest rather than relocate will protect the listed building for decades to come. However, many of the structures on the BBC site are not listed and therefore there may be a substantial amount of new build as part of this project.

"The city has an ambition to increase its attractiveness and what we build is an important part of that. Therefore we believe it is critical that the BBC put design quality to the fore in their preparations for this project and ensure that any new elements complement the character of the listed structure and enhance the wider area. Hopefully they will take the opportunity to engage with local architects and builders who have a passion for this city."

The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society's website notes that the building was completed in 1941, and based on a design by Scottish architect James Miller. His design was modelled on George Val Myer's Broadcasting House in London - the first purpose-built home for radio in the UK.

The UAHS said: "The Belfast and London BBC headquarter buildings share similar architectural character - built on a curved site with structural steel frame and similar window to wall ratios and glazing styles. While few noteworthy internal features remain inside, the exterior maintains its original modernist character."

And it added the BBC's decision to stay was "timely".

"With so many buildings of the modern era being overlooked or, as in the case of the Cathedral Quarter, proposed for needless demolition, it is timely that the BBC has set an example in deciding to retain and enhance the significance and sustainability of Broadcasting House in Belfast."

Belfast Telegraph

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