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Beauty or Beast: Cesar Pelli's One Park West Liverpool

Later today (19 August), Cesar Pelli’s 17-storey ‘flagship’ residential building at the heart of the Stirling-shortlisted Liverpool One masterplan will be given a group hug

The huggers want to show that, despite the recent nomination for an architectural wooden spoon and for generally ‘getting it in the neck’, there are people who still care for the 326-apartment, boat-shaped block. So who’s right?

BEAUTY

Speaking about the scheme, Pelli said he wanted to ‘to create a modern, striking building, a memorable place to live, with exceptional view of a wonderful waterfront and park’. Meanwhile Guy Butler, senior development manager at project backer Grosvenor, described the prowed block as a ‘building design which has really stuck its head above the parapet and has, without a doubt, vastly improved an area of our city centre which was formerly wasteland.’

BEAST

David Dunster from the Liverpool School of Architecture said it boasts ‘one of the nastiest looking pieces of standard office glazing since Britain was bombed by the Luftwaffe; and cheap.’ He added: ‘The prow can only be a ghastly reference to Liverpool’s maritime past and conclusive evidence that all architects should be banned from the use of metaphor, simile or metonymy in the next 100 years at least.’

Readers' comments (20)

  • Wasn't this meant to be much taller? Like the Gherkin, they both would have looked better and more elegant if they'd been a third higher

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  • Toad. Won't turn into a prince by being hugged and kissed.

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  • The Nomination came from The Liverpool Preservation Trust. This was the original site for Steers Dock reported as the first purpose built dock in the world. This was also the site of the bomb damaged and ill fated Customs house by John Foster Jr of which the loss Gavin Stamp laments far more eloquently than I can in his recent book. We in Liverpool are fed up with crude architecture being throist into a WORLD HERITAGE SITE just imagine if this was to be built alongside the Taj Mahal or the Pyramids,
    I personally objected to the proposals at the planning meeting where Rod Holmes of Grosvenor said and I quote "This proposed building pays homage to the classical orders". Huh!
    The original masterplan for a Grosvenor-pool showed a 12 storey structure and not as Grosvenors agents would portray that this building has been reduced in size.
    The site just cannot stand this 1960s Technical College on speed approach.
    They promised us Iconic and delivered Ichronic. Just what where English Heritage and the DCMS who are supposed to be protecting world heritage doing.
    http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/2009/08/building-designs-carbuncle-cup.html
    Promising us world class architecture they said they were to give a building by world class architects a Cesar Pelli.......and instead have delivered us a Ceasar Salad.
    A Carbuncle that we have to live with......and its almost empty as proof of what the public think.
    I used to be proud of the architecture in my city until the carpet bagging meglomaniacs arrived and sarted binge building..only now we are waking up with a hangover. I personally hate this building.

    Wayne Colquhoun
    LIVERPOOL PRESERVATION TRUST

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  • It is wrong to describe the former Chavasse Park as wasteland. This area was dedicated to double VC winner Noel Chavasse, one medal posthumously. The park provided much needed open space in a crowded city.
    One Park West has no architectural merit. Why would anyone reasonably wish it to be 10 storeys higher adjacent to a World Heritage site ? If we want to labour the maritime metaphor the Titanic springs to mind. The group hug is a desperate PR stunt - are they looking for the lifeboats ?

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  • I like the picture. It shows one of Liverpool's famous historic beauties apparently sticking up two fingers at this beast. Got it in One.

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  • Its design is pretty average, can be designed by anyone and can be built anywhere. I'd say an opportunity has been wasted, for whatever reason.

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  • Looks dated before it's even occupied. The choice of glazing is appalling.

    "Pelli said he wanted to ‘to create a modern, striking building"

    What he wanted and what was built are two very different things.

    To say a building is better than wasteland is hardly a compliment, and in this case, I'm not sure it is true.

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  • modern yes, striking, not in a very good way. to be fair and frank the building could have been a much better design and I'm sure the budget for this building was pretty decent.

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  • Boats that are that shape sink.

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  • Please dont forget that there has been another nomination for this archiectural wooden spoon which is a previous Beauty or Beast debate in AJ and that is the Terminally ill Ferry Terminal building in Liverpools waterfront Pier Head.
    http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/beauty-or-beast-new-liverpool-pier-head-ferry-terminal/5204487.article
    That is what you call architectural speaking shooting oneself in the foot but where was English Heritage and CABE when these plans were proposed.
    What avout next years awards when the god-awful New Build on Mann Island and the out of keeping museum comes on stream.

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  • how bitter are you mr colquhoun? show me one of your outstanding contributions to the liverpool skyline, at least these guys tried (and failed) rather than just shouting from the sidelines like a coward

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  • But he's right. And shouting it from the rooftops. Hardly the actio of a coward.

    Trying and failing really isn't what it should be about, is it?

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  • Doesn't Dunster teach Architects ?? Typical hypocrasy !

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  • I've read artcles by Colquhoun implying Steers House and the Moat House were worthy of retention - preservationist gone mad. And the worst building on Liverpool's waterfront - the ludicrous looking "microwave" on the bottom of Chapel Street - actually won an RIBA Award ! Would Mr Dunster care to enlighten us on the aesthetics of this ungainly structure ? Vist Chicago and see how it should be done.

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  • Another anonymous comment from the PR plodders or the development Cabal in Liverpool who have taken a battering for this eyesore.
    The comments which are factually incorrect and meant to bring in a uneducated debate to something that is very important....The protection of World Heritage. Just to enlighten what I did say was that they, Grosvenor knocked down Steers House and the Moat House two of the most hated buildings in Liverpool and have replaced them with..........Steers House and the Moat House only 12 Storeys Higher. How stupid is that?
    http://liverpoolpreservationtrust.blogspot.com/
    I always like to put my name to what I say and what I believe in, the same cant be said for those leaving silly badly thought out comments anonymously.
    Wayne Colquhoun

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  • Mushtaq Saleri

    It would be great if all the energy and hate that seems to exist in the world of some people could be channelled into more constructive areas. Yes, most intelligent and articulate people that care about their city want to preserve “heritage” but only if the city is allowed to live, breathe and change. Most professional people involved in development, construction and design would also like to engage in intelligent and factual debate. However, when faced with cheap blog-based blinkered fanaticism and ridiculous campaigns such as the “Carbuncle Cup” it’s no wonder that these debates descend into name calling and nastiness. Time to grow up and realise that “preservation” belongs in jam jars. Grosvenor have listened to everyone and anyone as part of the process of re-building an entire quarter of a city (including the definite wasteland that was Chavasse Park – see historic photos) – perhaps a criticism would be that they should (and could) have ignored more people to get even more out of their teams of architects?

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  • That's one of the most uninformed pieces of drivel I have read in a very long time.

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  • I take the line fed to me in discussions with the city council's planning dept on this one - better a bold piece of modern architecture than pastiche, or any attempt to emulate the glorious buildings around it.
    But Grosvenor shoots itself in the foot with that wasteland quote, I reckon. It wasn't wasteland - it was Chavasse Park, and my real objection is to Liverpool's current enthusiasm for building on its parkland. Isn't this the city with more green space per head of the population etc than any other, and isn't something wrong somewhere? Liverpool FC and Stanley Park, Alder Hey and Springfield Park, and so it goes on - where will it end?
    The redeeming feature is that this is currently a well used and well loved bit of park, and a great joyous space with endless people-watching opportunities. Long may it continue.
    And my carbuncle nomination would be the Customs & Excise building on the waterfront. You can see what drives it, but the manifestation is horrendous.

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  • No-one was seeking pastiche, but this really isn't anything but overpowering and out of place.

    Liverpool council should consider - is this a Liverpool building, or an anyplace building? And how does it relate to and harmonise with the other 'bold' pieces now so liberally and incoherently littering the waterfront area? It's a dog's dinner of architectural egos, driven by planners with no idea what they are doing.

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  • I find the comments by Mushtaq Saleri disturbing he is part of Studiothree architects that designed the pavilion in the park, Chavasse Park, which is still empty after nearly a year of completion. Not done a good job there then old boy. People building glass pavillions, that are still empty, should not throw stones. Chavasse park was never a wasteland and is now 40 feet up in the air built out of polystyrene slabs on top of a multi-storey car park, with a lawn applied, very clever. Yes there is a buzz about it when the sun shines, there is no-where else. So as part of the developers and StudioThree that is a biased comment I fear.
    Besides, the millions of tons of landfill from this site which were dumped into one of the historic docks, Princes half tide dock in the World Heritage site to accomodate Grosvenor have created a disaster for the future. The infill from Steers dock was then reclaimed to infill another how strange. Liverpool Mercantile and Maritime World Heritage Site, what does it mean this accolade, when you can fill in your docks. Please, do not talk about local democratic processes and Liverpool in the same breath, it just doees not work that way in a city of vested interests.
    Dr Anthony Small

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