Grand Central ‘showing its age already’


The person who designed New Avenue station’s iconic new atrium is warning compromises made in development are already beginning to present six months after it opened.

Internationally famend architect Alejandro Zaera-Polo famously fell out with Network Rail two years ago over compromises made to his designs for the £750 million New Avenue Station and Grand Central Buying Centre in Birmingham.

Particularly, he was scathing of the decision to swap a firm plasterboard cladding for the atrium’s supporting metal body for a softer material tented cowl.

And, having visited the station since its reopening in September, he says the fabric is already displaying indicators of sagging.

He additionally says the material will discolour at a distinct price to the plasterboard cladding elsewhere within the constructing.

Mr Zaera-Polo mentioned: “I’ve now seen the constructing and it has solely confirmed my forecast. Whereas the design of the inside follows virtually precisely our design, and that is very nice to see, the material is totally the unsuitable materials to make use of, and it’ll worsen over time.

“Hopefully, it will likely be at some point re-clad as deliberate.”

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He mentioned he didn’t know the precise specification of the material which had been used however he he recommended it could be just like the ETFE plastic which was used on the atrium roof itself and had a lifespan of 30 years.

“It shouldn’t be an issue by way of sturdiness though plasterboard would have lasted longer,” he added.

“The issue is extra the very fact it must be re-tensed periodically and it’ll sag a bit because it has already began to do.

“It should additionally accumulate mud in another way from the supplies used within the decrease a part of the constructing so it’ll over time destroy the continuity of fabric which is a vital a part of the design. It’s already doing that however it’ll worsen over time.”

The Spanish-born architect, whose AZPML agency has workplaces in London and New York, can be extremely crucial of claims the body couldn’t be given a stable plasterboard cladding.

“To learn within the media that the ‘development consultants’ say they might have wanted 14 motion joints to clad with a stable materials a 42-metre span girder is utter nonsense.

“I can do it with two and I’m joyful to clarify how and at a decrease price than what they spent on the material.”

Mr Zaera-Polo says he is happier with the steel cladding on New Street's exterior
Mr Zaera-Polo says he’s happier with the metal cladding on New Avenue’s exterior

The architect is way happier with the chrome steel cladding on the constructing’s outdoors which was designed to replicate trains getting into and leaving the underground platforms.

Like many concerned within the challenge, he stays dissatisfied at compromises made when it was decided to retain the Navigation Street footbridge and break up the chrome steel wrapping.

He mentioned: “I feel the outside cladding appears nice. Pity the Navigation Avenue footbridge shall be clad with a distinct materials – once more, in opposition to our specification and, once more, utilizing some very poor excuse of the development consultants to justify unhealthy design in public buildings.”

Community Rail claimed on the time that the chrome steel panels have been too heavy for the footbridge and troublesome to put in with out closing the rail station for a number of days.

As a substitute, light-weight aluminium powder-coated panels have been used.

AZPML, which grew out of the station’s unique designer International Workplace Architects, was changed on the challenge two years in the past by London-based Haskoll on the plans for the landmark central atrium and Grand Central purchasing centre.

Haskoll had not responded to a request for touch upon Mr Zaera-Polo’s newest feedback on the time of publication.



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