In the present circumstances, where most new developments are depressing rubbish, inflicted on the people of Leicester by the actions of greedy developers, and the ill-considered decisions of Councillors, and with a development control process that clearly fails to control development; it was a delight to visit six projects where the owners have lavished such a degree of consideration on the historic built environment of our City.
2008 Civic Society Awards Nominee Gallery
2008 Restoration Award Category
Both the 1893 Frontage of London Road Station, itself saved from loss by Civic Society direct action thirty-five years ago, and the former Charles Street Police Station of 1932 incorporated into the new development at No.2 Colton Square were impressive, demonstrating the highest quality restoration of our historic built environment.
However the Society has no hesitation in making the 2008 Award for Restoration of that environment to The Leather Factors, the former Pfister & Vogel Leather Warehouse of 1923 at 78-80 Rutland Street.
The Society is particularly impressed that, whereas the other entries had undertaken restoration to a high standard, there was a very real sense of the owner Mr. James van Oppen and his team having ‘gone the extra mile’ to achieve excellence. The building was so severely fire damaged that at one stage Mr. van Oppen could have done what most others would have done, and walked away from the problems. These included the rear wall, which is one of the first glass screen walls to be constructed in England. The glasswork and its frames had to be individually reconstructed.
The former warehouse has been converted to nine apartments, all of which have been taken. The ground floor is currently undergoing conversion to a restaurant and bar and the basement will become a high quality gym and sauna.
2008 New Build Award Category
In the category of New Build complementing the Historic Built Environment of the City of Leicester, both the Curve Theatre and the John Lewis Building make impressive contributions. Curve introduces world class theatre architecture to the St. Georges Conservation Area and the John Lewis Building makes an impressive visual link between the otherwise opposite ends of the High Street and Church Gate Conservation Areas.
However the Society’s 2008 Award goes to The David Wilson Library at the University of Leicester. The Society was particularly impressed by the ingenuity shown in the design by Associated Architects, who consulted carefully with the student end-users and then subtly adapted the frame of the existing library building to create a ‘state of the art’ new library of striking design that is a credit to both the University and the City.
2008 Awards to be Held at The City Rooms
As reported in December’s Leicester Citizen, Mr. Naresh Parmar of the City Rooms, himself one of our 2007 winners, has most kindly offered to sponsor this year’s awards ceremony and dinner. The Society is pleased to welcome as its guest of honour Mr. Keith Hamilton RIBA, Chairman of The Leicestershire Historic Buildings Trust, who will present the awards at The City Rooms on Friday 3rd April.
Invitations for members to attend were issued with the spring mail drop at the end of February and the evening will be reviewed in Leicester Citizen No. 19 due to be published in August. So high has the standard of entry been this year that Leicester Civic Society does not consider there to have been any real losers. We have therefore issued Nomination Certificates to the other four entries and propose to publish an article devoted to them in the August edition of Leicester Citizen.