English Heritage (EH) has refused to reassess and resubmit ABK’s 1971 Redcar Library for listing following calls from The Twentieth Century Society
The Society believed it had uncovered ‘new evidence’ (see attached) which warranted a second bid for listing, after the initial attempt to win statutory protection for the threatened library was turned down by architecture minister John Penrose (AJ 31.03.11).
However EH, which had already recommended the ‘significant’ post-war library for Grade II listing, has refused to look again at the merits of the building for listing and submit the steel building to Penrose for a second time.
A spokesperson said: ‘We will not be taking forward the Twentieth Century Society’s new application for Redcar on the grounds that it does not include new information which is substantial enough to merit a reassessment of the building.’
Jon Wright from the Twentieth Century Society said: ‘This is no great surprise really. We will get the chance to comment again ahead of the Certificate of Immunity decision.’
Previous story (AJ 08.04.2011)
C20 Society demand review of Redcar listing refusal
The Twentieth Century Society has called for architecture minister John Penrose to review his decision not to list ABK’s ‘flawed’ 1971 Redcar Library.
Ignoring advice from English Heritage, Penrose ruled last week that the library was ‘not of sufficient architectural or historic interest to merit listing protection’ and that its roof was ‘inherently flawed’ (see below).
The building is now set to be demolished to make way for a Council-backed £30 million leisure centre by S&P Architects.
Penrose said that numerous alterations, including the demolition of the covered walkway and partial removal of the sunken garden, had ‘the cumulative effect of diminishing the building’s special interest’.
The roof, he added, had ‘failed to keep out rainwater, requiring constant attention and resulting in changes to the roof structure which have compromised the building’s interest’.
However English Heritage had urged the minister to list the ‘significant…forward-looking’ postwar library.
Now the Twentieth Century Society, with the support of ABK, is demanding the Department for Culture, Media and Sport rethink its decision.
A spokesperson for the practice said: ‘We are surprised that the minister chose to turn down such strong recommendations using reasons that are in part outside the terms of reference for listing procedures.
‘With regard to the roof’s purported lack of performance, this is news to us. Changes that have been made to the interior are minor and reversible.
‘We also urge the council to desist with their intention to demolish. They should keep a valuable asset which could, in troubled financial times, provide a large amount of low-cost space, avoiding the high carbon cost of demolition.’
Previous story (AJ 31.03.11)
Penrose rejects Redcar library listing, against EH advice
Architecture minister John Penrose has refused to list ABK’s ‘flawed’ 1971 Redcar Library - against the advice of English Heritage
Penrose said the library, which is set to be bulldozed this spring to make way for a £30 million leisure centre designed by S&P Architects, was ‘not of sufficient architectural or historic interest to merit listing protection’ and that its roof was ‘inherently flawed’.
He added: ‘[I am] not persuaded the building’s architectural design, decoration or craftsmanship is of special interest. In arriving at his decision the Minister noted evidence that the roof structure, despite delivering daylight at a constant level throughout the interior spaces, has failed to keep out rainwater, requiring constant attention throughout its lifespan and resulting in changes to the roof structure which have compromised the building’s interest.’
‘The roof structure has failed to keep out rainwater’
Penrose went on to say that numerous alterations, including the demolition of the covered way and partial removal of the sunken garden, had ‘the cumulative effect of diminishing the building’s special interest’ (see full decision attached).
However English Heritage (EH) had urged the minister to list the ‘significant’ post-war library following an approach by the Twentieth Century Society (see below).
A spokesman for EH said: ‘Built in 1968 – 1971 it is a forward-looking building designed by…a highly acclaimed practice with a strong reputation for civic and education buildings. ABK’s Maidenhead Library, opened in 1973, was listed Grade II in 2003.
‘Redcar Library was developed between the Department for Education and Science and ABK. It was a forerunner of modern library design in its flexibility and user-friendly approach, and its forceful use of structural steel was a deliberate response to Redcar’s own steel industry. Currently empty, it faces redevelopment.’
A spokesman added: ‘English Heritage acknowledges the issues facing public buildings generally, including libraries, and is undertaking strategic work in this area.’
Previous story (16.02.11)
Spot-listing lodged in bid to save ABK’s Redcar library
The Twentieth Century Society has made an urgent spot-listing request to English Heritage in a last-ditch attempt to stop the demolition of ABK’s 1971 Redcar Library
The ‘distinctive and special’ building, which was built almost entirely from steel to reflect the local industry on Teesside, is set to be bulldozed this spring to make way for a £30 million leisure centre designed by S&P Architects.
On Monday the Twentieth Century Society, with the support of ABK Architects, agreed to approach English Heritage for an immediate listing assessment claiming the ‘anti-institutional and functional’ multi-use facility had ‘undoubted historic importance as a prototypical civic building’.
According to the society ABK’s Maidenhead Library, which itself was Grade II-listed eight years ago, ‘owed a debt to the pioneering spirit of Redcar’.
Stephen Chance of Chance de Silva Architects, who brought the building’s imminent destruction to the attention of both the society and ABK, said: ‘Redcar Library is the best modern building in the town and I am very sad to see it proposed for demolition.
‘It seems misguided that Redcar is demolishing a library which, if in other towns, would be proposed for Listing. Instead it could be upgraded as a centrepiece of a leisure/cultural quarter. Obviously, it needs external upgrading for environmental reasons – but since the building was cleverly designed with the structure exposed internally, it can be reclad and the single glazing upgraded.’
Under the latest proposals, which have been backed by Redcar and Cleveland Council’s cabinet but have yet to receive planning consent, the library would be decanted into the authority’s Redcar and Cleveland House. The site would then be cleared and replaced by a six-lane 25-metre swimming pool, leisure pool, a dance hall, a performance space and a three-storey car park.
ABK co-founder Peter Ahrends said: ‘I have no problem with the town wanting to build leisure facilities, but why does it have to be this site? The current building could easily be imaginatively re-used.’