David Chipperfield Architects and Reiach & Hall have downsized plans for Edinburgh’s first purpose-built concert hall in 100 years.
The £ 75 million project, to be built by Sir Robert McAlpine, was almost prompted by an aggressive legal challenge by the developers of the £ 850 million St James Center, a neighboring mall and hotel complex that was run by Allan Murray Architects with BDP and a Masterplan was planned, derailed Jestico & Whiles, referred to as Big Jobbie by hostile locals.
The concert hall on St. Andrew Square in the city’s World Heritage Site was approved in April 2019 after a five-hour debate and a razor-sharp vote with the planning. It was then estimated at £ 45 million.
Three months later, St. James Center developer Nuveen Real Estate filed for a judicial review, claiming the council had failed to follow due process in granting approval.
It protested the height and bulk of the Dunard Center, supposedly because it would block the view from the lower floors of the hotel.
The work took a little longer, but was interrupted in December of this year while the parties submitted to mediation. In January 2020, Impact Scotland, the promoter of the Dunard Center, announced that they had reached an agreement that included a redesign.
The redesigned building is smaller, 7m lower, and has lost its domed roof and 200-seater studio, but still contains a 1,000-seat concert hall that can be used for classical and contemporary performances.
It will include multi-purpose rooms for learning, conferencing and hospitality, a café / bar, and a foyer that can accommodate informal performances. It will be a home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and a venue for the Edinburgh International Festival.
Ewan Brown, chairman of the Impact Trust, said he would “fill a recognized gap in the region’s cultural infrastructure”.
The building will be located behind Dundas House in St Andrew Square, the 1774 home of Sir Lawrence Dundas which became part of the Royal Bank of Scotland estate in 1825. The bank hall, which is considered an architectural jewel, will be directly connected to the complex. The bank supports the project.
David Chipperfield said this week: “Hidden behind Dundas House and on axis with George Street, Dunard Center is strategically located, blending the formal qualities of St. Andrew Square and New Town with the more intimate atmosphere of the alleys around the register House in the direction of the new connects St. James’ district.
“The identity of the building is determined by its circular shape, contributes to the silhouette of the city and encloses a hall with 1,000 seats. This flexible, world-class facility is designed to adapt to a diverse program of performances and cultural activities, ensuring that it is a meaningful new addition to the life and structure of Edinburgh. “
Martin Perry, Director of Nuveen, said last year, “We welcome the initiative to significantly reduce the size of the concert hall and we are happy to work with it [the promoter and council] as Impact Scotland developed a new design that addresses our main concerns. We hope that the new design will better meet the requirements for this part of the city. “
Chipperfield and Reiach & Hall beat Adjaye Associates, Allies & Morrison, Richard Murphy Architects, the Swiss firm Barozzi Veiga and the Canadian firm KPMB Architects to win the 2017 project.
Subject to planning, work on site will begin in 2022 and will last around three years.