23 April 2014

Victoria Street – a glass corridor

As you will probably already know, I am not a fan of all these build-it-glass, build-it-fast, and build-it-high architecture that is sprouting up like a fungus all over this once great city.
Due to the homogenous design of these clip-together buildings I have been referring to this invasion of glass as 'The Dubaiification of London'
The latest victim of this spore is Victoria Street, SW1.
This vital route links The Palace of Westminster to Buckingham Palace Road and Victoria Station and, just like Cheapside* is in the process of being turned yet another glass river resembling a crevice in an ice flow.
Exiting Victoria Station one is confronted by the enormous upheaval of demolition and construction on a vast scale. Victoria Station itself is undergoing redevelopment, but works do not stop at the station concourse – there are other projects on the go at the same time and the whole of Victoria Street is a massive building site.
I photographed the area back in 2008, as shown above, and in July last year had access to see the huge hole made at the back of the The Victoria Palace Theatre. As you can see, Land Securities have very kindly kept the theatre but demolished a building of similar age that was to the right of it. The theatre will now sit like a tiny little child surrounded by huge shiny robots as per The Albert, a Victorian yellow brick public house that still survives on the corner of Buckingham Gate and is shown in the collection of images below.
What else is staying?
Little Ben has been removed – I assume he will return in the same position.
I notice the old Victoria Arcade has also been retained. I am hoping this is a permanent feature as I would hate to lose that beautiful (Doulton?) ceiling.  
But I am disappointed that the Overtons' sign on the building at the easter tip of the station concourse has been removed.
Westminster Cathedral's a bit old, so it's a good job we can't really see it. It can only be seen reflected in the glass windows of Victoria Street's upper floors, phew; that's a relief.
Compare and contrast... see the archive image above, bottom right, for how the Army and Navy Store used to look in 1905. Much of the rest of the street would have looked similar; imposing, solid and made to last... until someone with a wrecking ball and a love of mirrors came along.
I despair.
Read more about the plans for Victoria Street here.

*blimey, did I never get around to writing that one?

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