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Holmes completes £40 million revamp of Aberdeen's granite masterpiece

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[First look] Holmes Architects has taken the wraps off its £40 million revamp of Aberdeen’s A-listed Marischal College

The 17,500m² college – claimed to be the world’s second largest granite building – has been transformed into Aberdeen City Council’s new headquarters.

The 1841 Archibald Simpson-designed building was first used by the University of Aberdeen but will now host 1,400 council staff who will relocate there over the coming months.

Holmes project partner Douglas Jack said: ‘At a time when Scotland was expanding with confidence the ‘skyscraper-perpendicular Gothic’ style encapsulated both the religious idealism and the civic confidence of the late 19th century Scotland. It was also the ideal style to show what granite could achieve with the delicate tracery and sculpted pinnacles.

‘One of the greatest challenges in the redesign of a historic building is how the design and arrangement of internal spaces are suited for a modern environment and how they integrate with existing structure, fenestration and historical details.

‘At Marischal College, Holmes saw this as paramount to the design, and this is evident firstly at the granite arched main entrance, located in the building’s six storey high, West Wing. In order to overcome the separation of the two North and South Wings of the building, the original vehicle pend was filled in with a delicate frameless glazing system creating a grand internal space whilst maintaining the views through to the courtyard.’

The building re-opened in June last year and received an excellent BREEAM rating.

In November Holmes Architects merged with The Miller Partnership to form a new company called Holmes Miller.

Holmes Architects' Marischal College revamp in Aberdeen

Holmes Architects’ Marischal College revamp in Aberdeen

Project data


Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
Contract value: £40 million
Size: Gross internal floor space of 17,500m²
Client: Aberdeen City Council
Architect: Holmes Architects
Contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine
Civil and Structural Engineer:  Arup Scotland
Building Services Engineer: Wallace Whittle Ltd.
Landscape Architects: Kirklee Landscape Architects
Traditional Building Craftsmen: Laing Traditional Masonry



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