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Avanti tipped to win St Peter’s Seminary rescue project - again

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Avanti has emerged as favourite to win the long-awaited job to ‘rescue’ Gillespie Kidd & Coia’s St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross

If successful, it will be the second time the practice – now in a joint bid with NORD – has landed the prestigious commission, having originally won planning for a £15million scheme to rejuvenate the 1966 Brutalist landmark last summer. However, when funding from Creative Scotland was slashed from £2million to £500,000, the firm’s original vision was pared back and in May Scottish arts charity NVA began hunting for a new design team (AJ 20.05.14). 

Although a final decision is subject to a 30-day cooling-off period, the two practices are believed to have seen off competition from a shortlist which included Scottish stars Sutherland Hussey, Page\Park, Elder & Cannon and LDN.

The scaled-down £8million rescue project will consolidate the Grade A-listed structure, which is in a semi-ruinous state. NVA declined to comment on Avanti’s appointment and would not confirm it.

The priests’ training college, which was added to the World Monuments Fund endangered list in 2007, is considered to be a masterpiece of Modernist architecture, but was abandoned more than 25 years ago.

The news comes just days after the death of the seminary’s original architect, Andy MacMillan, who worked on the project while at Gillespie Kidd & Coia.

Previous story (AJ 20.05.14)

Architect sought for scaled-down St Peter’s Seminary rescue

NVA is seeking an architect for a revised £8 million resurrection of St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross

The Glasgow-based arts charity is looking for an architect ‘highly skilled in the conservation of modernist buildings’ to partially restore the Gillespie, Kidd & Coia-designed landmark.

The appointed design team will develop rescue plans up to RIBA stage D for the 1966 Brutalist seminary which was abandoned three decades ago leaving an iconic ruin.

A Round 2 application to the Heritage Lottery Fund will then be made and, if successful the appointment will continue up to project completion.

The hunt for a new design team follows a reduction in funding available for the ambitious overhaul which aims to consolidate the Grade A-listed structure in a ‘semi-ruinous state’.

Avanti and ERZ landscape architects won outline planning last summer for £15 million plans to create a new education and public arts centre within the 57-hectare woodland site.

Still planned to start on site next summer, the project is now being scaled down in light of available funding.

A significant setback was a 75 per cent reduction in funding from Creative Scotland which awarded NVA £500,000 at the start of this year instead of the £2 million the charity requested.

Liz Davidson of NVA said: ‘The £15 million masterplan was [created] pre-full awareness of what funding would be possible. It was more about what NVA really wanted to do.’

She continued: ‘The task of the new team is to engineer the scheme so we get the same outputs without a fairly sizeable chunk of funding.’

Key elements of Avanti’s and ERZ’s scheme such as transforming the ruined glasshouses of a nearby 19th-century walled garden into a visitor centre and refurbishing St Peter’s sanctuary and refectory will be retained.

The restoration of the sanctuary and refectory will however now be broken down into more manageable separate phases.

Plans to tackle the teaching and convent blocks could also be shelved with the stand-alone structures indefinitely preserved as ruins or restored in later phases.

Applying teams should be joint led by an architect and landscape architect and include a quantity surveyor, structural engineer, services engineer, hydrologist, access consultant and CDM co-ordinator.

NVA will select a shortlist of five teams following the completion of pre-qualification questionnaires. Finalists will be invited to present detailed proposals at interview in response to the full project documentation.

The deadline for requests to participate is 10 June.

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