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Emerging New York practice wins Preston Bus Station contest

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New York-based John Puttick Associates has triumphed in the competition to create a youth centre at Preston’s grade II-listed bus station

John Puttick Associates beat Flanagan Lawrence, Letts Wheeler Architects, Preston-based Cassidy + Ashton, and Sane Architecture from France to win the high-profile job.

The practice was set up just last year by John Puttick, who had previously run Make’s Beijing and Hong Kong offices.

The plans will see the 1969 neo-Corbusian concrete building transformed into a ‘vibrant place’ for young people.

Around £23 million will be pumped into revamping the iconic BDP-designed bus station to make it ‘more appealing to passengers’ as well as becoming home to the new Preston Youth Zone Plus.

The threat of demolition had been hanging over the bus station for nearly a decade. But in late 2013 Ed Vaizey listed the popular bus station, which had been voted BDP’s second best building in the practice’s history (AJ 23.09.14)

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More than 125 practices from 16 different countries registered to take part in the RIBA-run international competition.

Among those known to have entered are Hawkins\Brown, Caruso St John, SimpsonHaugh, RCKa, Moxon Architects and Turner Prize-finalists Assemble.

John Puttick Associate’s winning scheme was also the scheme chosen by the public and by AJ readers in separate online votes.

More than 4,200 people voted for the design they wanted to win the contest at a two-day exhibition held at the bus station and online through the council’s website. These votes were taken into account by the judges when making their final decision.

Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: ‘We always knew that the bus station had a global appeal, and the fact that the winning firm comes from New York reinforces this.

‘We’re delighted that a strong design has been chosen for the new Youth Zone Plus and we’ll now be working hard to get it built. This is a significant investment in one of Preston’s most well-known buildings, which will bring exciting new facilities for our young people, for this generation and for future ones.’

Puttick, said: ‘The Preston Bus Station development is an important opportunity to create a destination that makes a genuine difference for both visitors and the local community.

‘The three components of the project - the revitalisation of the modernist bus station, the new OnSide Youth Zone, and a large outdoor public space - offers a rich mixture of uses and the challenge of sensitively introducing contemporary design to the existing setting.’

Innovation, vibrancy and excitement are key factors of the winning design

Guy Topping, chairman of Preston Youth Zone said: ‘Preston’s young people deserve the best. The Youth Zone will be for them so it was vital the winning design struck a balance between the challenges of building next to the listed bus station and meeting the needs of young people. We are delighted with the outcome. We feel the winning design really does reflect the young people of Preston with innovation, vibrancy and excitement being key factors.’

Hugh Broughton, RIBA architect adviser added: ‘Preston Bus Station is a hugely significant twentieth century building and all the shortlisted architects have responded to its bold architecture with skill and empathy. John Puttick’s winning scheme cleverly resolves the requirements of the On Side Youth Zone to create a building which will be fun, safe and engaging to use while celebrating the original architecture of the bus station and providing flexible open space, which can become a focal point for community events at the heart of Preston life.’

A planning application for the sports centre is set to be submitted at the end of the year.

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