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Architect fights back over claims Donald Trump clubhouse design is 'gross'


Acanthus df director Douglas Forrest has hit back against claims by an academic that his Donald Trump clubhouse is ‘gross’ and looks like a ‘hideous leftover from the Victorian era’

The centrepiece of Donald Trump’s £750 million Aberdeenshire golf resort was unveiled last week but received a mixed-reaction from critics with University of Glasgow architecture emeritus professor Andy MacMillan claiming it was not ‘even worthy of Disneyland’.

He said: ‘It is gross. It is out of character, and it doesn’t begin to exploit the landscape around it — it just stands there.’ Adding the scheme was like a ‘hideous leftover from the Victorian era’.

Acanthus df director Douglas Forrest, who studied architecture with MacMillan, however said there was ‘no harm’ in placing a traditional building on the coastal site and said there ‘should be absolutely no surprise or embarrassment’ felt towards the design.

He added: ‘[The scheme] ignites and invites opinions. It is provocative in the best sense of the word.

‘For the golf clubhouse all things considered in terms of the site, the brief and also the client’s preference whether you are Tutankhamun or Lehman Brothers the client does matter. That has always been the same since architecture with a capital “A” began.

‘Our client loves and wants to contribute to the tradition of golf in Scotland. Golf is a traditional game and there is no harm in the traditional form this building is taking.’

Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland secretary Neil Baxter told The Scotsman:  ‘It’s a building that might have echoes of architecture from 1850, but it’s very much of now.

‘And the quality of the materials is exemplary, and that always tells in a building. We have got something that will bring in the international tourists and encourage Americans to come here and settle in for a week of golf, and I think that clubhouse fits the bill.’

The single-storey 1,600m² structure will be built from granite, slate and glass and is one of the many buildings — including a five star hotel and guest houses — planned for the Gareth Hoskins Architects-masterplanned leisure resort. A planning application for the scheme is expected to be submitted soon.



Readers' comments (6)

  • Would be nice if the AJ commented rather than simply reported; this kind of stuff deserves more than the gossip column joke line I suspect it will get (beyond the interesting but private conversation between Alan Dunlop and his mate in response to last week's note).
    Living in an old country is bad enough, but living in a fake one drains the spirit.
    One doesn't have to be a cool late-modernist or an iconisto to bemoan this stuff; from FAT back to Pugin, from mdf back to papier-mache, there's loads of room for fun with historical pattern books - but the issue is quality.

    PS Andy MacMillan isn't just "an academic". He's not only a great teacher but in his youth (and with IM under JEC) got the RIBA Gold Medal for fine buildings which lifted the spirit.

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  • Vahagn Mkrtchyan

    I didn't expect anything less from a Donald Trump commissioned scheme

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  • With some notable exceptions, and as an architect currently working in Scotland I find it rare that a client actually has the ambition or courage to look beyond some idea of ‘traditional’, architecture.

    Particularly if it is funded by a bank or building society, and particularly if that ambition means becoming mired in planning negotiations for several years to develop an ‘acceptable’ solution, and then go on to have it rejected by a committee of self interested councillors.

    Not to be too moral about it, and in addition to the weather – that’s what makes working up here so bloody depressing and difficult most of the time.

    When it comes to architecture we are no longer guardians of the enlightenment. Indeed Scottish society seems now genetically predetermined to mistrust innovation, change, or the contemporary in the built environment

    To embrace the modern in anything other than the car you own, your flatscreen TV, your healthcare or PC, is outside of the norm; and that’s a difficult thing to be up here.

    Does this excuse Douglas Forrest from producing this derisory effort? No.

    Will it prevent him from being burnt at the stake in the Aberdeenshire wilderness. Maybe.

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  • Perhaps Mr Forrest could now turn his attention to the design of the close inshore 'offshore' windfarm planned for this stretch of coast, and currently giving Mr Trump apoplexy.

    May I suggest that the proposed clubhouse chimneys - reminiscent of the vent stacks on some of our more forbidding Victorian prisons - could inspire treating the wind towers as cotton mill chimneys, and adorning the turbine blades as traditional windmill sails; that should keep Mr Trump happy.

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  • I can't speak for their morals but as far as commerce and architecture is concerned, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire is not really part of Scotland. It's frankly an independent state. They do things differently there.

    The architects, with a the exception of Gokay Deveci, in the city don't really engage with the rest of the country and don't need to. As a consequence it's hard (impossible) to find a building in the city centre that you could direct an architect visitor intersted in good design to go see , I've struggled many times.

    As far as applications being rejected by self interested councillors, in Aberdeenshire the opposite was true when Trump's proposals were approved.

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  • In fact Alan, it was Scotland’s First Minister and leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, who was instrumental in calling in and overturning the council’s original decision to reject the Trump’s proposals?

    Self interest of a different sort, but an indication perhaps of how the real independent state would be run if (god forbid) such a thing came to pass.

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