Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Liverpool's Tower Of Babel

Have you been Credit Crunched? Downturned? Recessioned? As the UK unemployment figures nudge toward the two million mark, & Merseyside's jobless headcount reaches an ominous 45,000 ( ), it's reassuring to know that developers in the city have their finger on the local economic going ahead with a scheme to build 700 luxury apartments overlooking the waterfront ( ).
Normally, the local media lap up a story like this as further proof of Liverpool's "recovery". Not this time. The Post adopts a distinctly fretful tone in its report & quotes just one of a number of sceptical local estate agents: "This is not just being ambitious, it's downright strange. Even if [the developers] can get money to build, the banks aren't lending to buyers at the moment."
So what form will these putative apartments take? The Post elaborates:
"King Edward Tower, a joint venture between Y1 and Richmont, is a 54 storey giant overlooking Princes Dock that attracted the wrath of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) because of design ethics.
Architect Martin Birkett, of Leach Rhodes Walker, said: 'We have been working closely with the landowners, developers and the city council to take on board the concerns that have been raised and are addressing comments made by CABE.' "
In other words, its design has been questioned by the government's advisor on architectural & design matters ( ), & the architects concerned seemingly pay little heed to CABE's strictures.
The development has been mooted for some time now. On July 7th, 2007, Construction Mall reported ( ):
"The £130 million tower...sits on the former site of the King Edward Public House. This gateway site of Liverpool's Strand and Leeds Street is adjacent to the Princes Dock development and is arguably on one of the most important locations on Liverpool's waterfront."
Therein lies yet another tale of civic & architectural neglect in Liverpool. The King Edward pub was allowed to fall into a state of irreparable decline during the 80s & 90s. It should have been granted Listed Building status, given its design, features & heritage. Myopia, however, prevailed over foresight.
There is a passage of purple prose from the Construction Mall article which belongs in Private Eye's Pseud's Corner:
"LWR [Leach Rhodes Walker] have worked hard to develop the character of the scheme that, whilst distinctive in its own right, made prominent use of stylised vertical elements and the atr deco stepping of the skyline that has been developed to be reminiscent and reflect the iconic imagery of the America bound emigrates from Liverpool, providing the International links between the Mersey Docks and the distant American shores."
Don't expect that burst of verbosity to win a Plain English award.

No comments: