2010 Civic Society awards for architecture

Posted by pt91 at Feb 22, 2011 04:10 PM |
Redevelopment of Percy Gee Building wins award for new build in Leicester

Issued by Leicester Civic Society on 21 February 2011

Leicester Civic Society has now declared the winning entries for the 2010 Civic Society Awards for Architecture. It was a very great pleasure to once again receive nominations for, and to visit examples of both restoration and outstanding new buildings that enrich our historic built environment. These beautiful buildings are the heritage of our future.

In the field of restoration we were immensely impressed by St. Martins House, Peacock Lane. A large and prominent building in the Cathedral/Guildhall Conservation Area and listed in 2009, it was originally the Wyggeston Hospital Boys School by Architects Shenton & Baker in 1876. The building has a complex architectural history, reflected in its complex internal layout with extensions and additions dating from the 1880’s, 1920’s, 1950’s and 1980’s. Project Manager Rev. Peter Hobson, Architect Michael Goodhart of Pick Everard and their contractors are to be congratulated on a first class job of restoration and reuse as Diocesan HQ offices and function rooms.

The Equity Works dating from 1895 was the last surviving Boot & Shoe Factory in Leicester and an important part of the social history of our City. Leicester’s leading suffragette Alice Hawkins worked at Equity, where she was visited by Mrs. Pankhurst. When the works finally closed it was the end of an era. However the building has been rescued by Jamie Lewis Residential Lettings and, as with the Gimson Houses last year, Mr. Lewis has come to the rescue of an important building on the Local Interest List, which otherwise has no protection from the demolition men.

Both of these entries win commendations for restoration. However there can only be one winner.

The Award for Restoration goes without doubt to The Central Fire Station, Lancaster Road, designed as such by Trevor Sawday in 1925, and now restored meticulously to its original condition both inside and out. The most remarkable feature of this building, and one that instantly caught the imagination of the adjudication panel, is that it is still a busy working fire station after eighty-five years and as such is obviously more than fit for purpose. Yet at the same time the care and attention to period restoration has to be experienced to be believed. Everything from brass fittings, to plasterwork, bricks, window frames, woodwork, clocks, lawns and fencing have been restored. The building is an inspiration for what can be achieved if only people care enough for their historic built environment and is a tribute to both Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service and Leicester City Council, who bought the whole splendid project to fruition in time and within budget.

The Award for New Build goes to the Percy Gee Building at the University of Leicester. The panel found this to be an exciting new building constructed on an extremely difficult and sensitive site almost ringed by the listed buildings in the University Campus and the historic parkland of Welford Road Cemetery. The building is large and of a striking design yet manages to be almost unobtrusive in its setting. This is a difficult achievement for any architect or designer on such a site. The building is obviously new yet somehow looks as if it has always been there.

We are delighted to announce that on Friday 8th April 2011 our guests of honour, Sir Peter and Lady Soulsby, will present the 2010 Awards, with a reception and dinner at the City Rooms, Hotel Street.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1)  The Awards presentations will be made at 7.30PM on FRIDAY 8th APRIL 2011 at the City Rooms, Hotel Street, by Sir Peter and Lady Soulsby. The press are invited to attend.

2) Leicester Civic Society is an independent voluntary organisation. A registered charity we aim to promote the highest standards of planning and architecture and to secure the preservation, protection, development and improvement of features of historic and public interest within the City of Leicester. The Society is funded by subscription and is open to all who are interested in actively furthering its aims.

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