Old sixties office block, Draper Gardens, in the City of London is set for the demolition ball. The lower part of the tower is now shrouded in scaffolding and the tower crane to demolish the building has been erected next to it.
Drapers Gardens is a prime redevelopment spot in the City as well as one that when gone should reduce the intrusion on St Paul's Cathedral when viewed from Waterloo Bridge.
A stepped structural expressionist mid-rise designed by Foggo Associates, 74 metres tall, has been approved by the City of London and will be replacing the current building dividing opinions on what to do with the architectural heritage Britain has from the sixties and seventies. The new scheme is being developed by the Royal Bank of Scotland who purchased Drapers Gardens a number of years ago with the intention of turning it into a modern office complex.
On one hand people argue that these buildings, even if not beautiful should be preserved if they are a good example of the era as Drapers Garden is considered. With its curving glass facades and crescent ends not to mention the cantilever that supports the building and opens up the base area to the public, it is certainly one of the more elegant tall buildings of the era.
It was designed by Richard Seifert of Natwest Tower fame, and is considered one of the best of his buildings so preservation could also be argued from the perspective of the fame and importance of the architect.
On the other-hand some argue these buildings are ugly and poorly designed but most of all, unsuitable even for renovation into modern offices, the sort of thing that the City of London needs and that the new design with glass atriums and roof gardens responds more sensitively to needs.
The danger of this argument is we've heard if before many times and thirty or forty years later come to regret it. Victorian gothic buildings were considered ten-a-penny and stood in the way of post war development, as a result they were often bulldozed en masse. Victims included Birmingham's fine library and Glasgow's Christian Institute, not to mention the Imperial Institute in Albertopolis and Euston Arch. More modern structures demolished thanks to the same mindset include the Dome of Discovery and Skylon.
It can be hard for the immediate generation after to appreciate architecture of the previous one on the basis of its historical importance but the problem, as always Chairman Mao was right, it's too soon to tell whether Drapers Garden falls into this category of architectural value. Only time will tell, and by then it will be too late.
What is clear is we value the immediate past in the never-ending drive for modernisation just as little as generations before us. If you want to appreciate in person for a final time it we suggest you get down there as soon as possible, in a few months it will just be a shell.
NOTE - We've had plenty of emails telling us we've forgotten to mention this is the tallest building ever demolished in the U.K. Silly us for missing that obvious thing.
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