Open Letter to The Lord Provest, City of Edinburgh Council
I write to draw your attention to a truly extraordinary blunder which is about to be committed by the developer of St James Quarter, with the approval of Edinburgh Council, against the advice of the city’s planners and World Heritage advisors – namely the use of white Bavarian limestone to clad its giant exterior bulk, instead of a readily available local warm yellow British sandstone which matches the Craigleith sandstone used throughout the New Town.
It is bad enough for the elephantine bulk of this replacement building to rise up and compete with Calton Hill, and to intrude conspicuously into the age-old familiar crag-and-tail of Edinburgh’s skyline, without it also being expressed in a material entirely alien to its surroundings.
At the very least, test panels of both facing stones should be set up against the side of the present St James Centre, to allow councillors to review this decision on behalf of the general and visiting public worldwide, and to allow the developers, their architects and agents to set aside all other considerations and draw back from making such a calamitous and ignominious solecism within the World Heritage Site.
Department of Architecture
University of Edinburgh